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Mass faintings underscore poor conditions for Puma, Adidas factory workers

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Mass faintings involving hundreds of people have occurred at least twice this week at factories in Cambodia, where workers who make popular sportswear fall victim to fumes and poor ventilation, Reuters reported on April 3.

The mass faintings occurred most recently at two Cambodian factories that manufacture clothing for Puma SE and Adidas. In one of the mass faintings, a reported 118 employees passed out on Thursday at the two factories in Phnom Penh — Shen Zhou and Daqian Textile. Puma and Adidas said they were investigating the mass faintings, Reuters reported.

The mass faintings quickly drew criticism over the conditions employees endure at Cambodian factories, the Inquisitr reported. The mass faintings by the garment workers were the result of hot weather and poor conditions in the factories, which includes poor ventilation and strong smells because of chemicals used to make shoes.

The mass faintings also may have been caused at least in part by food poisoning, Cambodian officials said. Workers reported being nauseated and experiencing vomiting and diarrhea during the mass faintings.

Workers rights groups were quick to respond to the latest reports of mass faintings. And garment workers in Cambodia have apparently begun to organize to demand safer working conditions and higher wages. A strike was said to be planned for the week of April 17 to seek a wage hike from $100 a month to $160 a month.

District police chief Khem Saran told Reuters that one worker became ill and that others simply began to collapse, leading to the mass faintings. He also said that 53 others had become ill at a mass fainting at another factory because of a strong paint smell.

A recent Phnom Penh Post report about mass faintings said the Cambodian government is attempting to blame employees, alleging that they fail to protect their own health. Mass faintings are not uncommon in Cambodia, and that report noted that in March, dozens of workers at other factories fainted because of glue fumes.

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