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Mass faintings at H&M factory in Cambodia

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

Mass faintings at H&M factory in Cambodia

“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.

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PROTESTS

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

The chairwoman of the Police Association West Region has said that police special tactics, known as Särskild polistaktik or SPT, should be available across Sweden, to use in demonstrations similar to those during the Easter weekend.

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

SPT, (Särskild polistaktik), is a tactic where the police work with communication rather than physical measures to reduce the risk of conflicts during events like demonstrations.

Tactics include knowledge about how social movements function and how crowds act, as well as understanding how individuals and groups act in a given situation. Police may attempt to engage in collaboration and trust building, which they are specially trained to do.

Katharina von Sydow, chairwoman of the Police Association West Region, told Swedish Radio P4 West that the concept should exist throughout the country.

“We have nothing to defend ourselves within 10 to 15 metres. We need tools to stop this type of violent riot without doing too much damage,” she said.

SPT is used in the West region, the South region and in Stockholm, which doesn’t cover all the places where the Easter weekend riots took place.

In the wake of the riots, police unions and the police’s chief safety representative had a meeting with the National Police Chief, Anders Tornberg, and demanded an evaluation of the police’s work. Katharina von Sydow now hopes that the tactics will be introduced everywhere.

“This concept must exist throughout the country”, she said.

During the Easter weekend around 200 people were involved in riots after a planned demonstration by anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), that included the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Police revealed on Friday that at least 104 officers were injured in counter-demonstrations that they say were hijacked by criminal gangs intent on targeting the police. 

Forty people were arrested and police are continuing to investigate the violent riots for which they admitted they were unprepared. 

Paludan’s application for another demonstration this weekend was rejected by police.

In Norway on Saturday, police used tear gas against several people during a Koran-burning demonstration after hundreds of counter-demonstrators clashed with police in the town of Sandefjord.

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