| PHNOM PENH
PHNOM PENH Oct 27 More than 200 Cambodian
workers have fainted this week at a garment factory producing
clothing for Swedish fashion brand Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M)
(HMb.ST), police said on Thursday.
It was the third case this year of mass fainting at
Cambodian factories used by the brand, which expressed concern
and said it had already conducted an initial investigation and
interviews with workers.
Some 236 staff collapsed on Monday and Thursday at Anful
Garments Factory (Cambodia) Ltd, in Kompong Speu province, about
50 km (30 miles) from the capital Phnom Penh, provincial police
chief Keo Pisey said.
"They just felt headache and dizziness and were taken to
hospitals," Keo Pisey said. He said the factory had been using
chemicals to prevent cockroaches from eating garments.
Some 136 workers fell sick on Thursday when staff returned
to work after a three-day closure of the factory following
illness to about 100 other staff on Monday.
"I was shaking, I couldn't breathe and I vomited. Many
people vomited," Chea Chanry, a 29-year-old factory worker, told
Some major brands have launched investigations into the
fainting of at least 1,200 garment workers this year, many of
whom fell ill while toiling for long hours, eking out meagre
salaries of about $60 a month that help feed hundreds of
thousands of impoverished rural families.
The increase in faintings is the latest in a string of
setbacks for an industry that grew 28 percent and generated more
than $3 billion last year from its 300,000 workers at scores of
factories, owned mostly by Chinese and Taiwanese companies.
The sector has been plagued by strikes and demonstrations
over working conditions and pay, some of which led to clashes
between the mostly female employees and armed riot police.
Faintings have taken place twice already this year at two
other suppliers of H&M garments.
About 300 workers collapsed at the Hung Wah textiles factory
in Phnom Penh in July and another 284 workers fell ill in August
at M&V International Manufacturing Ltd in Kompong Chhnang
H&M said it took the incidents seriously, but noted that
previous investigations at those factories by the local
authorities and Cambodia's government had reached no conclusion
on the cause of the faintings.
"The workers' wellbeing is of importance to us, and we are
concerned about the situation at the suppliers," H&M said in a
response e-mailed to Reuters.
"In all cases, the root causes of the incidents in Cambodia
are difficult to establish. Nevertheless, we want to seek
findings allowing the identification of root causes and
solutions to these discomforting incidents."
Among the big Western firms with clothing produced in
Cambodia are Marks and Spencer Group Plc , Tesco Plc
, Next Plc and Inditex , the world's
biggest clothing retailer and owner of Zara.
(Editing by Martin Petty)