The Svay Rieng provincial labor department on Monday ordered a Taiwanese-owned garment factory to temporarily close and improve its ventilation after more than 100 workers collapsed in two separate mass faintings in recent days.
Ou Sothoeun, deputy director of the provincial labor department, said 63 workers collapsed Friday and another 41 on Monday, prompting the government to order the You Li International factory in Bavet City to cease operations for the time being.
“We came to investigate at the factory and see the real situation. There are a few reasons [for the fainting]. It is because of hot weather and a lack of oxygen,” he said.
In both cases, Mr. Sothoeun said, one female worker vomited due to inhaling fumes from glue being used in production of the clothes, causing hysteria among other employees around her.
“We told the factory to stop production temporarily and wait for the situation to get better. We will send medical staff to observe [the factory],” he said.
Mr. Sothoeun added that all of the workers who fainted were sent to the Chi Phu referral hospital in Bavet City, and said the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) would cover the medical costs.
“The NSSF and the factory must be responsible for the workers,” he said.
Aun Sophal, administrative director at the factory, said the factory had agreed to cease operations for at least a day and a half as it installs additional fans and “fixes the bad smell from our toilets.”
“We decided to close our factory this afternoon and tomorrow following the order from the provincial labor department,” Ms. Sophal said.
“We are not sure whether to cut the workers’ salaries on their days off,” she added. “Our boss is still considering this.”
Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, which has a local branch in You Li, said workers were scared to return to the factory.
“We are really worried about this situation,” he said. “If workers had to keep working, they would face big health problems.”