Swedish fashion brand H&M has said it will launch an investigation into fainting incidents at a Cambodian clothes factory which provides some of its knitwear.
Nearly 300 employees at the M&V International Manufacturing Ltd. factory fell ill last week, according to the local newspaper, the Phnom Penh Post.
According to the local daily, 284 workers fainted over two days – 86 on Tuesday and 198 on Thursday. Another 40 workers fainted at a separate factory in the Dangkor district.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered Ministry of Labour officials to quickly investigate and resolve the problems leading to the mass faintings.
Meanwhile, H&M has said it is aware of the “discomforting incidents” and it is “preparing for a for a thorough in-depth analysis”. The popular retailer added that no “plausible causes” had been found yet.
According to the local media, some workers at the Kampong Chnnang factory claim they have had to work up to six hours overtime a day for the past two months.
Union representative Norn Leakhena told the Phnom Penh Post that bosses at the factory also forced workers to stay in the factory until 11pm from January to March.
According to the Union, people regularly faint while in the factory, particulary when they are working near the laundry room.
Management at M&V International Manufacturing have denied the allegations of forced overtime and a “toxic” working environment. One executive told the local reporters that the fainting was caused by “poor health” and a “strange psychological phenomenon”.
“In China, this kind of thing is unthinkable. We cannot understand how this happens so often in Cambodia,” the unnamed executive reportedly said.
“The workers don’t pass out at once, they pass out in succession. One worker passes out, and when another sees this and she passes out, then another and another and another. It is beyond my comprehension.”
Workers affected by the fainting were told to take the rest of the week off