Just weeks after a deadly building collapse in Bangadesh, the concrete ceiling of a factory in the Kampong Speu province of Cambodia collapsed, killing two and wounding seven others. The collapse happened just after the start of the morning shift, caving in on around 50 workers. The factory was contracted by the Japanese shoe company Asics to manufacture its sneakers. A spokesperson for the company said, “We understand that some people have died, so first we offer our condolences.”
“It’s a calamity,” said David Walsh, Cambodia director of the Solidarity Center, which works as an affiliate to the AFL-CIO union. “Where the garment industry goes, so do workers’ rights abuses.” Keep reading »
Around 300 workers fell sick at an H&M factory in Kompong Chhnang, Cambodia, last week, reportedly while making shirts for the Swedish retailer. Workers allegedly smelled something bad coming from the shirts, and began fainting. After the incident, the plant sent its 4,000 workers home to rest and closed for the remainder of the week. But that hasn’t stopped local authorities from blaming the incident on the “weak” workers, though fair labor advocates believe that it’s more likely the cause of poor ventilation, exposure to chemicals and exhaustion.
This isn’t the first sweatshop-related fainting incident. Labor organizations say there have been more than a thousand reported occurrences of fainting in the past year. Even when chemicals aren’t the root cause, long hours, exhaustion and malnutrition are often to blame. H&M says they are investigating the incident with help from the U.N. International Labor Organization, but had “not found any plausible causes so far.” [Reuters] Keep reading »
Cambodia put the kibosh on a “Miss Land Mine” beauty pageant today, forbidding women who have been injured by land mines to strut their stuff.
According to the Miss Landmine Cambodia 2009 web site, 20 women, ages 18 to 48, who had been disabled by a land mine sometime since 1979, had hoped to compete. Pageant officials say the Miss Land Mine pageant, which took place in Angola last year, not only raises awareness about land mines, but it gives disabled women with prosthetic arms and legs a once-in-a-lifetime chance to vie for a beauty queen crown. Keep reading »