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The Fashion Industry's Perfect Storm: Collapsing Workers and Hyperactive Buyers

Anne Elizabeth Moore - About a year ago, record numbers of garment laborers in factories across Cambodia - which exports 70 percent of the garments manufactured there to the US - were reported to be suddenly and mysteriously falling to the ground, unconscious. Hundreds at a time - sometimes less, although sometimes more. Workers at many scenes reported foul smells, difficulty breathing. Halting investigations took place at select plants by various parties involved: government officials; labor unions; human rights groups; business associations; monitoring organizations; and, weirdly, the international big-name brands that sell the clothes being made. A consortium of factors was considered: hypoglycemia, the direct result of workers not eating enough; minor factory infractions that managers promised to address immediately; a common cold outbreak emanating from Canada; overwork; mass hysteria; workers partying too hard over the weekend; and spiritual possession. In the end, no single cause was named for the nationwide epidemic. Besides a 5$ "health bonus" for qualifying workers, no sweeping policy changes were offered to keep the incidents from continuing.  Read more.

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