Mass faintings this week by factory workers in Cambodian sneaker factories are highlighting deplorable and oftentimes unregulated conditions found in overseas plants producing goods to export to the U.S. and other countries.
According to a Reuters report on April 3, as carried by MSN News, “scores of garment workers have fallen sick this week at factories in Cambodia including two that produce clothing for sportswear giants Puma SE and Adidas, police and workers said on Thursday.”
News outlets are reporting that 118 textile workers fell ill and passed out on the factory floors at the Shen Zhou and Daqian plants. Investigators have not officially released the reason for the mass faintings, but some have blamed the cause on a potent odor of glue. Others cited food poisoning.
Samples of the food available at the plant factory, as well as samples of the water, have been sent for laboratory analysis.
“We don't know why but one worker was sick and others just saw them and began to collapse,” district police chief Khem Saran told Reuters.
One worker who fell ill gave a statement to Reuters:
“It was hot and I began to vomit, I had diarrhea and others had the same problems,” said 30-year-old Nguon Sarith from a hospital bed in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh.
NewsMax picks up the story:
Mass faintings are all too familiar in Cambodia, which has become an important manufacturing center for many high street fashion brands.
Garment makers have often complained of poor ventilation, strong chemicals and use of potent glue for footwear, although official investigations in recent years have been largely inconclusive.
There were more than 1,000 faintings reported in 2011 alone in factories that are mostly owned by Chinese, Taiwanese and South Koreans. Most workers earn less than $100 per month and many volunteer for overtime to boost their income.
The impoverished country of Cambodia, located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia, employs some 600,000 people in textile plants that produce $5 billion in exports to other countries, including the United States.