The head of one of Cambodia’s biggest independent union’s said Monday he wants a government investigation into the fainting spells of thousands of workers this year.
Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, sent letters to the ministries of Health, Environment and Labor, requesting they look into conditions at factories that are harming the health of workers.
This year alone, some 2,300 workers have reported fainting in five Cambodian factories for reasons that are not fully explained, he said.
Likely factors include toxic fumes from clothes, too many hours of overtime work, poor ventilation or other factory conditions, Chea Mony told VOA Khmer. “I want the three concerned ministries to hold acceptable inspections of workers’ fainting, with professionalism and independence and without corruption.”
Seng Savuth, cabinet chief for the Environment Ministry, said the ministry will send experts to assess the factories where fainting took place.
Pok Van Phath, deputy chief of the Ministry of Labor’s medical center, said he had reports from 52 workers from two factories Monday who had fainted from a lack of sleep and food—not chemicals or poor ventilation.
Workers are spending only $0.25 on each meal, leading to fatigue, he said. “We think this is not enough for each worker. She eats a pack of rice with an egg, which lacks calories. The workers face a lack of vitamins.”
Bun Ying, a spokesman for the International Labor Organization, said a number of factors are leading to the fainting episodes.
“We’ve observed problems relating to working conditions, chemicals in the clothes and the workers’ health,” he said. “There is the fear among workers when many other workers are fainting and having their health affected.”