16 May 2013

Shoe factory collapses in Cambodia

4:10 pm on 16 May 2013

At least six people have died after a shoe factory collapsed in Cambodia and many more have been injured.

Sum Sokny, a member of the trade union at the plant, said there were about 100 people inside the factory when it collapsed about 7am on Thursday (local time).

Ms Sokny said five women and one man died in the plant owned by Wing Star Shoes.

According to one report, about 50 people were trapped inside the low-rise building, located in Kampong Speu province to the west of the capital Phnom Penh.

Cambodia has seen a rush of investment in recent years, especially into the shoe and garment sector, with Western and Asian firms attracted by its low-cost labour, Reuters reports.

The Phnom Penh Post newspaper reported on 22 March employees at the plant stopped work and blocked a main road for about an hour in a protest over wages and working conditions.

Strikes over pay and poor working conditions are common in Cambodia, which like Bangladesh is home to numerous factories producing clothing cheaply for Western retailers.

A series of deadly incidents at factories in Bangladesh have focused global attention on safety standards in the country's booming garment industry, the world's biggest exporter of clothing after China.

A high-rise factory housing garment manufacturers collapsed in Bangladesh on 24 April, killing more than 1100 people. That has sparked campaigns in the West to improve safety conditions at plants in the country supplying Western brand names.