Mass faintings at two factories in Cambodia are continuing to spur investigations into the possible causes and working conditions of employees. On Thursday alone, 118 people fainted and and many suffered stomach issues at Shen Zhou and Daqian Textile factories, according to Reuters.
“It was hot and I began to vomit, I had diarrhea and others had the same problems,” said Nguon Sarith, 30. She was one of the many workers who were treated at local medical facilities after Thursday’s mass faintings. She said she didn’t know the cause, but suspected food poisoning.
In line with that suspicion, investigations have been focused on the canteen of Shen Zhou where food samples have been taken and tested.
The illnesses are a huge blow to the already flailing textile industry in Cambodia, which has been under intense scrutiny for labor practices, but is also essential to the people of the nation to survive. The industry brings in $5 billion a year in revenue and employs some 600,000 people, many of which are supporting poverty-striken rural families.
The two factories make sportswear for Puma SE and Adidas and have suffered recent unrest over pay and working conditions, sometimes growing into protests which can be violently suppressed by the government.
Workers earn about $100 per month and work in conditions where poor ventilation, strong chemicals and use of potent glue for footwear are a constant complaint. In fact, these mass faintings are not a new thing for these factories. In 2011, over 1,000 faintings were reported. Such problems came to light after a factory in Bangladesh collapsed last year, killing 1,100 people.
On April 17th, unions are planning a week-long strike for higher wages and better working conditions. Hopefully they will be more successful than the strike on January 3rd that ended in violent clashes and the deaths of five workers.
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