1 worker dies, 18 faint at Cambodian garment factory

AP News
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Posted: Nov 06, 2015 5:44 AM

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — One worker died and 18 others fainted at a garment factory in eastern Cambodia that has been closed pending an investigation, authorities said Friday.

Five female workers at the Or Sambath Trading factory reported dizziness, vomiting and difficulty breathing on Thursday before passing out, said Duk Kanthor, district governor where the factory is located in eastern Prey Veng province.

They were sent to a hospital, where a 21-year-old worker later died, he said. On Friday, 14 more workers fell ill with similar symptoms before passing out and being taken to a hospital, he said.

The factory, which is Chinese owned, employs more than 1,000 workers, mostly women, said Duk Kanthor. It was ordered closed for four days to determine what had caused the health problems.

The garment industry is Cambodia's biggest export earner, employing about 700,000 people in more than 700 garment and shoe factories. In 2014, the Southeast Asian country shipped more than $6 billion worth of products to the United States and Europe.

Last month, the Labor Ministry announced it was raising the minimum wage for garment workers by 9.4 percent to $140 a month, hoping to ease tensions after tense negotiations with workers and employers. Wages in Cambodia remain low by international standards.