More than 80 garment workers at a factory in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district were taken to hospitals on Monday after fainting due to lack of fresh air in the factory compound, district vice chief of health Dr Mao Sreang said.
Eighty-six workers from the Kun Mao Hsing garment factory, located along National Route 4, were taken to three private clinics with one person in serious condition, Mao Sreang said.
“The factory compound has a stuffy environment and lack of oxygen to breathe and as a result, workers fainted,” he said. Poor diet was also a contributing factor, he added.
Four garment workers at the same factory fainted on Friday and 26 others also fainted last Saturday, said Soeurn Thol, deputy-director of Kun Mao Hsing factory’s Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia .
Soeurn Thol said the factory’s owner has not yet looked into the cause. The fainting spells have created a huge disturbance among the factory’s more than 800 employees, Mao Sreang said.
Factory union representatives said there were other issues leading to the fainting spells. They said the factory owner had been forcing employees to work overtime and workers were exposed to chemical fumes.
But the factory owner, Chen Chin Chong, denied he is providing an unsafe work environment.
“The air circulation is very good,” Chen said.
He said he suspected his workers were feigning sickness because they had seen another factory recently grant benefits to its employees, including shorter work days, after many of them fell ill.
“They are trying to follow others from other factories,” Chen said.
However, Chen said, he will pay the medical bills of all 86 workers and will shorten work days from 10 hours a day to eight hours a day, starting today.
“I hope the factory owner pays medical fees for me and the other workers who fainted because my salary is too low,” said Pum Sot, 32, who fainted Monday morning.
Before Pum Sot fell unconscious, she said, she felt tired and weak and had difficulty breathing.
“I felt it hard to breathe, and I smelled a kind of chemical fumes. After that, I’d fallen down and was unconscious,” Pum Sot said.
Other workers had similar symptoms, said Sok Dalin, 21, from Takeo province, who also fainted. She said the workers felt out of breath after being in the factory compound for only half an hour.
“The factory compound is too hot, and there’s not enough air to breathe,” Sok Dalin said. She added that she and the other workers were asked to restart work today, despite their current weakness.
“I still feel too weak now but I have to restart my work,” she said.
(Additional reporting by Wency Leung)