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Cambodian Garment Workers Dying on the Job

Cambodian garment workers are falling ill on the job. According to IndustriALL, in a single week in July more than 200 workers were admitted to the Prek Anhchanh Health Center in Phnom Penh after passing out at work in garment factories.

Two workers, 35-year-old Nov Pas, a seamstress at the Sangwoo factory, and 44-year-old garment worker Vorn Tha, who collapsed at the New Archid factory, died late last month. A third worker died in March at the Cambo Kotop Ltd. factory.

A spokesperson for the Sangwoo factory denied corporate responsibility for Pas’ death, claiming medical carelessness from the hospital where she was receiving treatment.

Sokny Say from IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC), said, “2014 is remarkable because while we have had many cases of mass faintings in the past, this is the first year that people have died. We must not become immune to the fact that so many garment workers are collapsing in the factories. It can be a precursor to death.”

IndustriALL general secretary Jyrki Raina, said, “This sinister development of workers collapsing at work and then dying cannot go unchallenged. Poverty wages mean that garment workers cannot afford to eat properly and a lack of food, long hours and intolerable factory conditions are proving a lethal combination.” He added, “We continue to back Cambodian unions’ demands for a raise in the minimum wage so garment workers can afford enough food to live on and no longer have to work such punishing overtime hours to survive.”