500 workers faint in Cambodian clothes factory

PHNOM PENH: At least 500 garment workers, mostly women, fainted today while they were

doing their jobs at a South Korean-

owned factory in Cambodia, police

and unionists said.

The workers began vomiting and

fainting in the afternoon at the

Willbes Cambodia & Co factory, located

on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, local deputy police chief Chuob Samon said.

“According to the first conclusion made by environmental and labour officials, the problem was caused by the atmosphere at the factory. There are a lot of workers at the factory and there is not enough air,” Chuob Samon said. The workers were immediately sent to hospitals in the Cambodian capital for treatment, he added.

Unionists agreed there was a lack of

oxygen in the factory, which employs

more than 2,000 workers, but said

it was more likely the incident was caused by a poisonous substance sprayed on clothes there on Saturday.

“We think it is likely caused by the chemical substance,” said Chea Mony, head of the country’s largest workers’ group, the Cambodian Free Trade Union.

Cambodia’s garment industry is the impoverished nation’s largest source of income, providing 80 percent of its foreign exchange earnings and employing an estimated 350,000 people last year.