At least 107 garment workers at a Cambodian factory believed to produce apparel for Nike Inc. fainted Wednesday, possibly due to excessive exposure to chemicals and poor ventilation, local media and worker’s rights observers said.
Photos posted by several Cambodian Web sites and The Community Legal Education Center (CLEC), a Cambodian rights group, showed individuals linked to intravenous drips lying on beds in what appeared to be a hospital. CLEC said on its Facebook page that the incident occurred at 11 a.m. local time Wednesday in a factory in Kompong Speu Province, just outside Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. It said that the 107 workers were employees of Sabrina (Cambodia) Garment Mfg. Corp., and they fainted due to “bad smell from glue.”
Attempts to reach Sabrina and Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, of which Sabrina is a member, on Wednesday evening were unsuccessful.
Dave Walsh, Cambodia director of the American Centre for International Labour Solidarity, a U.S.-based worker’s rights group, said in a phone interview that it was possible that up to 300 workers had fainted. According to Walsh, Sabrina had been in the news recently because a government arbitration council last week ordered the reinstatement of a union leader who had been fired.
A document on the Web site of Panjiva, a trade sourcing data provider, indicated that Taiwanese-owned Sabrina has been a supplier to Nike Inc. since at least 2007. The document could not immediately be independently verified. An attempt to reach Ryan Greenwood, Nike Inc.’s UK head of pr and communications, was unsuccessful.
Cambodia’s $4 billion garment and footwear export industry accounts for about 90 percent of the Southeast Asian nation’s exports and has faced a series of mass faintings in the past year. Last August, 284 workers fainted while working at a factory run by M&V International Manufacturing Ltd., which supplies Swedish label H&M. In June, 49 workers fainted while working at a factory producing goods for Puma, the sportswear manufacturer. Forced overtime, poor ventilation and the lack of a living wage have been cited as reasons behind the mass faintings.