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Mass faintings at H&M factory in Cambodia

Mass faintings at H&M factory in Cambodia

Published: 28 Oct 2011 07:06 GMT+02:00
Updated: 28 Oct 2011 07:06 GMT+02:00

Over 200 Cambodian workers fainted this week in a factory which manufacturers clothes for Swedish fashion giant H&M.

“They suddenly felt sick and got headaches,“ said Keo Pisey of the local police, reported news agency TT.

According to police, almost 240 workers suddenly lost consciousness on Monday and Thursday. This is the third time this year something similar happens in the clothing chain’s affiliated factories.

“I was shaking, I couldn't breathe and I vomited. Many vomited,” said 29-year-old Chea Chanry, one of the affected, to news agency Reuters.

The company which operates the factory, Anful Garments Company in the Kompong Speu province, located about 50 kilometres from the nation’s capital Phnom Penh, has recently been using chemicals to get rid of cockroaches, reported the local police.

About 136 employees fell ill on Thursday when the workers returned to the factory after a three-day closure following about 100 other staff fainting on Monday.

H&M said that it had started an investigation into why workers are fainting and is interviewing the employees about their experiences.

"The workers' wellbeing is of importance to us, and we are concerned about the situation at the suppliers," H&M said to Reuters.

Several other large clothes manufacturers operating in the country have experienced similar incidents and mass faintings have occurred twice already this year at two other suppliers of H&M garments in the region.

The Cambodian textile industry employs around 300,000 workers and grew by 28 percent last year. Most of the factories are owned by Chinese or Taiwanese companies.

The workers are mainly low paid women and the unsatisfactory working conditions have led to a slew of strikes and protests in the last few years.

TT/Rebecca Martin (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:50 October 28, 2011 by rouzi
OK! Not strange at all. It is the way that western countries have flourished their so called economy.

A H&M Worker in Cambodia receives an annual salary of $500 for example. A cloth that its final production expense is $1 is sold $500 in Sweden. Of $500 40% is collected as tax in Sweden and this tax is utilize in social service.

Conclusion : People enjoying of the non given salary of a H&M worker + H&M comes among one of the richest company in the world.

Now, can really western countries people be proud of social welfare. Perhaps, the most strange thing is that people sometime are proud of their stupidity and unfairness as well.

A world without nationalists and nationalism would be a great place!
13:53 October 28, 2011 by Uncle
rouzi

One can see that from you to economical laws is like from a new arriving refugee to passing an SFI exam. Nobody is evil and conspiring. Everything is decided by economical rules.

If socialist morons would force a company like H and M to pay even one dollar more, then the landed cost (Standard cost of sales plus logistics and packaging) will be higher than paying to the Swedish workers.

An effect of such a smart decision would be a transfer of production to closer regions, by that making cambodians unemployed and taking even the one dollar from them, while decreasing unemployment in Sweden and making swedes even richer.

This effect could be seen by forcing Nike to pay more to the kids in their Asian factories. As a result, Nike moved its production into regions that had no such requirements and sent the kids to starve. Socialists were happy, Nike did not suffer too much and shoes prices increased slightly.

Now you rouzi - instead of banging on about evil west, go and check the income statement and landed costs of H and M and then propose a solution that would not kill cambodian workers. How about that?
14:27 October 28, 2011 by Mr_concerned
This actually sounds like carbon monoxide poisoning, perhaps from machinery or forklifts. A carboxyhemoglobin test could confirm (or eliminate) it as a source of the problem.
15:22 October 28, 2011 by rouzi
@ Uncle

Yes. It is exactly what they claim. They claim we are creating job for them.

I did not say why they are creating job in the region. I am telling they should pay workers fairly according to their regional expenses. NO Exploitation.

I did not call anybody or any country evil/ devil or whatever. Evil or something like that is belong to whoever believe in these nonsense. Here, the matter is right or wrong decision and action

As far as I know this is us who can decide and put into action and not rule, laws or any invisible power around. Economical rules are built up by us. Then, they can be correct or wrong and changeable.

Western countries people should know that it is possible for them to do their own job themselves and there is no need for government to act as parents fro them and whatever they claim is a lie. In fact, it is a process to keep somebody dependent to a power source and therefore giving the feeling of being always needy

Adam Smith theory is the most unusable and sickest theory in the today world and it is a practically cause lot of troubles. It is a prat which need change ( not revise , a total revolution)

World had a movement of separating religion from government which improved human life significantly.

Now there is a sever need for separation of business from government.

As far as business and politic are the same or are joined, the problem will exist.

As human being we can make mistake. After making a mistake we have two ways. we can accept our mistake and try to compensate or we can be selfish and continue our wrong ways. Now either these so called industrial and advance countries accept their mistakes and take responsibility of messes which have made ( what they did not since now) or they soon or late would be observer of people who march the streets for taking their rights.

A new war is not the thing that anybody wants but continuation of these foolish pride can make it inevitable. logically poor people have noting to loose.
16:43 October 28, 2011 by Uncle
rouzi

Man, you are throwing more slogans than Che Guevara did on his hay day. Since I cannot answer to such an array of socialism, I will stick to the issue.

Who said that a mistake was done rouzi? Who? There is no mistake. No one uses no one. Simple arithmetic. ANY company MUST calculate their costs vs income and while decreasing the former, increase the latter. Without this no economy would ever exist. It is simple - H&M offers jobs in Cambodia. It is not a concentration camp. Not prison. It is a legitimate offer on a free market.

If their salary would be too low, they would not get any workers and therefore there is demand. If they were to increase the offer from wonderful charity reasons, their income would suffer overtime and they would go into bankruptcy, rendering their short term charity useless. Alternatively, as I said, they would be forced to change region of operations, by that making the increase in income among cambodian workers - temporary. Why? Because the SAME third world countries control the prices of oil and by that making imports expensive.

You want to make cambodians make more money - create a situation from which a western company would benefit. For example demand decrease in oil prices (which in turn may cause to starvation of OTHER 3rd world populations). Or offer cambodians to invent their own fashionable line of clothing and pay huge salaries to their workers.

A total revolution of anything and especially of economical rules never brought to anything good. Look at Russia in the 90s. Look at Argentina at the same time. Look at the revolution that allowed Mugabe to implement his own "economical" model of forcefully taking farms from the white and giving them to the black (by that making a green country into a grey desert).

Revolutionaries like you should be sent to schools of economics and then try and be answerable for a company that has 20 thousand swedish families to feed. Let's see your charity impulses then.
17:55 October 28, 2011 by rouzi
@ uncle

Ha ha. This is you!

Mistake: what is mistake? Neither me nor anybody has ever made mistake. Change: Impossible. Do not even think about that.

Mentality: negative.If I can not do, nobody else can do.

Revolution: is an act that should necessary include force and be done at one night.

Revolutionaries: Are all stupid regardless of how much they know and who they are.

Every of my comment should be along with Ironic assertion

Conclusion: Nothing can be done! what it is, is.

Western countries were reach from first and African and eastern countries were poor.

Sorry but you got all wrong. Nobody wants H&M or any other company to be disappeared if you are worry about swede families ( the number of families who feed on this company is a lot more than what you assume.) Nobody wants to overthrow or something like that. Nobody wants to make other poor. Nobody follow socialism or any type of belief. Nobody supposes to harm others.

What is in sight here is an urgent need for a fundamental change in the economy system of the world because it is the base which has built badly or in the better word, the base has become old and needy of change ( it is so damaged to repair). Otherwise H&M is a very small typical part of this faulty system. Changes are not supposed to start from H&M.

By the way thank you for suggesting me to go to economy school. I will think about that.
18:02 October 28, 2011 by Svensksmith
This is the price we pay for our cheap merchandise.
00:39 October 29, 2011 by salalah
Qhy do they mix H&M into this? it is a sub-contractor who probably also makes clothes for Walmart and Gap,,,

H&M does not own the factories and it does not have staff there...Poor working conditions are prevalent in those countries...

Want to help them out? Start buying Fair Trade clothes...
11:15 October 29, 2011 by voidplay
There is some truth to what 'rouzi' says:

Name few countries with a non-european connection that has developed after world war 2.

South Korea and Japan, both are extremly protectionist and are essentially "nationalists" hiding in 'free market' clothing. Just like most European countries.

SK and Japan were important models against the communist cover.

There was lots of news of chinese exploitation in Africa. As of 2010 China accounted for 9% of African trade, India 3% and Europe 45%. The Chinese and the Indians were competing to build Infrastructure,railway, communication, power, schools and exported medicines (as in the news). What was all the trade from Europe going weapons, high end luxuary goods and financial services.

The difference in wealth between Norway and Sweden lies in oil, how come several oil and resource rich countries elsewhere are poor.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that we pay a little more than the cost extraction for the resources we extract out of the earth. Corruption and lack of knowledge of entitlement in third world countries. And add to that the willingness and the offhandedness of first world countries to exploit this corruption, govt interference in creating barriers, encouraging unsustainable growth, cutting out back room deals, price fixing, signing in unfair deals and lobbying for contracts.

Have you ever seen any road or bridge built in Sweden but not by Skanska, why is that Sweden never gets reported to the WTO.

Why does Switzerland have the kind of immunity that no one else have?

Why is that Germany is allowed to trade with the 'Axis of evils' and it hardly makes it to the news?

Most of today's growth is driven by increase in efficiency in third world countries, but is it sustainable. Except for China where the govt tries to keep its long term interest in mind, elsewhere it is a free run. Corporations with their govt backing take up, huge lobbied govt contracts paid for by the loans taken out by people from third world countries go on to pay the salaries in their own countries. As long as nationalism is high in first world countries and low in third world countries such inequalities will remain even if you open up the labour market (like withing EU).

While the world makes a lot of noise on the copyright bills, it makes very little effort to scrutinize the the kind of IP laws and uneven trade pacts made with 3rd world countries. The reason is a low density of educated masses which also form the elite, insufficient resources to handle significant fine print and the general ability and willingness to buy and sell governments.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
17:41 October 29, 2011 by Uncle
Oh, yeah rouzi. Kumbaya my lord, kumbaya. "Yes, we can"... "Occupy wallstreet", slogans, slogans.

Changing free market by distorting the laws of supply and demand, is like saying that since there is not enough food in the world, we should make a "revolution" and genetically develop people who do not eat, but sustain themselves on salt water.

Again, coming to a seller in any desert market and demand him to reduce his prices, although he gets enough customers as it is, is useless and idiotic. It is the natural basics of any economy.

Of course you can force a revolution and claim that the market seller makes a "mistake" that he should fix by reducing prices, but what use does it have? The seller will go to other market instead and his customers will lose a good business, because some ignorant socialist wanted to make it "better" without any understanding of anything.
18:59 October 29, 2011 by wakak
So typical Swedish. Fika and worklife balance is for Swedish workers. As for the workers employed abroad by Swedish companies, they can die, nobody cares... as long as they can make products cheap enough to provide hefty profits to Swedish shareholders. Hey guys, what about taking care of your workers or your non-Swedish plants ?
19:01 October 29, 2011 by stevepoddy
I know well Cambodia.There the rich are 1/1000,or less,the rest of the population is close to starving.In Phnom Penh you find only luxury Lexus,for the few: other people has a small motorbike.at best.Exploitation is worse only in Bangladesh.

There are many ONG,they do nothing,just spend their rich salary in cars,bier,food.

London of Dickens was by far better.
19:20 October 29, 2011 by Uncle
wakak

"as long as they can make products cheap enough to provide hefty profits to Swedish shareholders. "

The poor workers are free to move to the cambodian owned factories and leave the evil swedish owned one. Surely, in the famous for their comfortable working conditions local factories and management who cares only about benefits to their workers, unlike the greedy swedes, the workers will have much better lives.
03:38 October 30, 2011 by omash kavash
thats what we call capitalism exploiting poor workers underpaid and in un humane conditions its on its way to sweden ladies and gentlement welcome to the world of hynas where citizens will be treated like comodities and where ur govenrment will no longer represent you and ull be owned by big coparetes
20:41 October 30, 2011 by Marc the Texan
Economically this is the best thing that can happen. Press reporting the incident, that is. Public pressure will, in-turn, increase the pressure that companies exert on suppliers to raise standards and wages. Eventually some of the manufacturing will come back to the West, because more automated production closer to market will become advantageous.

A slow process to be sure, but things will get better over time.
06:10 October 31, 2011 by Gamla Hälsingebock
Why should Western countries be responsible for the conditions that are allowed by the Eastern owners of these plants?

What else is available for third world workers?

The industrial revolution did the same to Europeans when it began and look where we are now, life got better for us and it will for them.

You have to start somewhere and then improve what you have.
14:45 October 31, 2011 by shinnam
People are so poor in Cambodia, they sell childern to pediophiles. They will take any job that lets them eat.

Are Western countries responsible? Would one buy leather made of human skin? Is it really that much different if the working conditions cause people to get cancer,, pass out or loose limbs? When consumers buy the goods from companies that treat workers poorly, We are responsible, even if indirectly.

BUY NOTHING DAY is November 26.

http://www.adbusters.org/campaigns/bnd

Here is a about labor practices of H&M, ICA and some other Swedish companies. t video:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6733564947664645042
18:47 October 31, 2011 by Uncle
Oh, my GOD! Buy Nothing Day?

Is this going to force companies to improve the situation? Are you 2 y/o? Such a day would indeed cause to more awareness among the companies, which will not improve the situation in the factories since it is not profitable, but close the factories, causing direct and immediate starvation of thousands of families. I would like these families to know the NAME and ADDRESS of the "good hearted" moron who invented the day.

I went on and found a full year 2010 report. Sales - about 108BSEK. Profit after tax 19BSEK. After tax profit margin - 17%. This was given as dividends to shareholders and invested into 250 new stores globally. Given that there may be what - 10-15 store employees, plus the new suppliers, plus logistics, we have an increase of quality of life of what - 10 thousand families worldwide?

Take the money from shareholders, there will be no new investments/stores. No new factories. No increased GDP of the third world. Just the piles of feces that the third world is capable of producing. As usual.
21:30 November 1, 2011 by swe-usa
@ Uncle

You are so damn right and am glad that you were persistent in your posting. I despise this socialist talk about how you are closed minded and give into the fact that "nothing can be done." Hej people, this is the real world, where there are both rich and poor. What do you think that we are going to unify every country one by one enforcing "fair" policies which will miraculously put 7billion people into a comfortable middle class. Ha! This will never happen, it is impossible, (Yes ROUZI, it is impossible) not everyone gets to live the same in this life. And it just so happens that different portions of the world are better at creating growth and playing the game of business.

Rouzi if you think for a second that forcing a firm to pressure suppliers into significantly increasing salaries is going to be the thing to help these people in third world countries....then you are so lost, there may be no help for you.

Increasing salaries would first of all cause layoffs, leaving more on the streets, and it would cause suppliers either to move operations into another country or to replace human labor with highly integrated robotic labor. The R&D and sale of these machines would send even more money to Europe and other regions while sucking it out of the third world region.

I hope that when you said you would consider studying economics that you were not writing in sarcasm. Instead you should really consider this.

Once again, thankyou "Uncle"
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