More than 30 garment workers fainted in a factory at Canadia Industrial Park on Monday due to mass hysteria after news spread of one staff member being possessed by a ghost spirit.
Bun Van, chief of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union in Canadia Industrial Park, said about 35 workers at the New Orient Garment Company fainted and were sent to a private clinic for treatment.
“There was news spreading amongst the workers that one of them was possessed by a ghost spirit and was yelling for chicken to eat,” said Mr Van. “This information scared the other workers and they started to faint one by one.”
“All of them were sent for treatment at a private clinic near the garment factory,” Mr Van added.
Mr Van said it’s not clear if the ghost possession was real, but noted it is not the first time such fears have spread amongst workers at the industrial park.
“At some garment factories in Canadia Industrial Park it happened more than ten times already. Some workers were brought to Takeo province to see Khmer magic sorcerers. In a few cases, owners of factories bought chickens to sacrifice at pagodas,” he said.
More than 1,000 workers are employed at the factory, which produces jacket, pants, dresses, skirts and polo shirts.
Kim Ly, 35, one of those who fainted, said some workers fainted in the morning and others in the afternoon.
“I felt panicked and suddenly I fainted, but I still do not clearly know the reason why,” said Ms Ly.
“Now, another worker who was brought for treatment at the clinic is still yelling like she is possessed,” Ms Ly added.
Cheav Bunrith, director at the Ministry of Labour’s National Social Security Fund, declined to comment.
Last month, Mr Bunrith said incidents of fainting in factories had decreased, from 1,800 in 2015 to 1,160 last year, thanks to education programmes on nutrition.