Over Two Days at Two Factories, 184 Female Workers Faint

More than 180 female garment workers have fainted at two factories in Phnom Penh and Kandal province since Monday, officials said Tuesday.

At the Taiwanese-owned Quint Major Industrial factory in Kandal’s Ang Snuol district, 46 women collapsed at their stations Tuesday, said Cheav Bunrith, spokesman for the Labor Ministry’s National Social Security Fund (NSSF). The faintings followed those of 43 workers at the factory on Monday.

“They fainted because the workers were fearful, on top of their existing weak health conditions: fevers, dizziness, difficulty breathing and little strength to stand,” Mr. Bunrith said of Tuesday’s faintings.

According to a report issued by the NSSF following a visit to the factory Tuesday, a worker with a severe cough was taken to a nearby clinic at about 8:20 a.m., causing the remaining workers to panic and faint.

The report also says that the 43 faintings on Monday were triggered when a worker received an electrical shock from the sewing machine she was using.

However, Seang Sokun, a representative of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union at the Quint Major factory, said he was told by the workers that unidentified fumes had caused Monday’s mass fainting.

“There were fumes on Monday that were bad,” Mr. Sokun said, adding that on Tuesday “they fainted because they were still scared.”

Mr. Sokun said NSSF officials who inspected the factory Tuesday did not arrive with the necessary tools to identify hazardous fumes.

“The investigating team didn’t use the right equipment,” he said. “They used their noses…and found nothing.”

In a separate case Tuesday, 95 workers fainted at the Chinese-owned CN Prosperous Garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district and were sent to a nearby hospital.

“A female worker felt dizzy, exhausted and weak, and fainted. Subsequently, the rest of the workers began to fall,” read an NSSF report about the incident.

Neither factory could be reached for comment Tuesday.

According to Mr. Bunrith, the NSSF spokesman, there were 557 faintings at factories across the country in the first six months of this year, compared to 896 in the first half of 2014.

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