Fainting problem at factory of H&M’s supplier in Cambodia

In Cambodia, faintings occurred every day for five years in a single factory supplying to some of the biggest international brands, according to the Cambodian Legal Education Centre’s recent study.

At M&V garment factory, Swedish brand H&M’s supplier in Cambodia, three or four workers fainted each day for years until just weeks ago when the management installed new fans.

The workers, line leaders and union officials were split up into different groups and interviewed by the Cambodian Legal Education Centre (CLEC) on 20 October at M&V; all provided the same response. Those results were corroborated by the Phnom Penh Post’s interviews with workers who said at least one or two workers fainted each day for years.

The Swedish brand’s supplier, M&V factory, has had its reputation dogged by repeated mass fainting incidents, including two in August alone. It is now the target of a media campaign in Sweden opposing exploitative labour practices.

Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at CLEC, said workers had told him the factory had begun acting swiftly to remove workers immediately after they fainted in a bid to avoid hysteria-driven mass fainting, but the individual cases had continued.

Workers said the causes of the fainting included lack of food, uneven ventilation in the factory, bad smells and excessive hours, with some employees working overtime seven days a week, Tola said.

Anna Eriksson, from H&M’s Communications and Press Department, said the company had devised a remediation plan with M&V that introduced a grievance system to the factory, an environmental health safety committee, temperature monitoring and other improvements to ventilation.

“This is an industry-wide problem that needs to be addressed. Similar incidents have happened at a number of garment factories in Cambodia at suppliers producing for several different companies, also at factories where H&M is not present,” she said in an email.

“Routines had been introduced to ensure overtime was strictly voluntarily at the Kampong Chhnang factory, while top management were holding monthly meetings with workers and middle managers were being trained in how to prevent heat stress,” Eriksson added.

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