Garment workers in Cambodia are “dying on the job” because of a combination of overwork, poor working conditions and poverty wages, a union claims.

The Industriall Global Union alleges that in one week in July, over 200 workers were admitted to the Prek Anhchanh Health Centre clinic in Phnom Penh after passing out while working at garment factories.

Sokny Say from the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC), an affiliate of IndustriAll, said 2014 was the first year in which workers had died, adding: “We must not become immune to the fact that so many garment workers are collapsing in the factories. It can be a precursor to death.”

IndustriAll said two workers at factories outside Phnom Penh had died at the end of July, including a 35-year-old seamstress working at the Sangwoo factory, where a company representative reputedly blamed medical carelessness at the hospital where she received treatment.

A 44-year-old worker also died at the New Archid factory, which makes clothes for H&M, and a third worker, at the Cambo Kotop factory in Phnom Penh, died in March.

“This sinister development of workers collapsing at work and then dying cannot go unchallenged,” said IndustriAll general secretary Jyrki Raina.

“Poverty wages mean that garment workers cannot afford to eat properly and a lack of food, long hours and intolerable factory conditions are proving a lethal combination.

“We continue to back Cambodian unions’ demands for a raise in the minimum wage so garment workers can afford enough food to live on and no longer have to work such punishing overtime hours to survive.”