KUALA LUMPUR (April 2): Malaysia has always prioritised and supported good labour practices in all agri-commodity sectors for the welfare of all parties through the strengthening of every law involving workers’ welfare, thus attesting its firm stance against the practice of forced labour.

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali said Malaysia’s commitment was evidenced by a two-year study on the labour situation in the plantation sector which was completed last year in collaboration with the Ministry of Human Resources (MoHR), Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) and International Labour Organization (ILO).

The Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities, through the Malaysian Rubber Council, in collaboration with the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (MARGMA) and the MoHR as well as related agencies, constantly observes, monitors and warns the industry to protect the welfare of workers in the agricultural sector and comply with the law for the common good,” he said in a statement today.

Mohd Khairuddin said the ministry had taken note of the latest action by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Trade in issuing an import ban on all disposable gloves from Top Glove Corp Bhd’s factories.

He said the CPB’s claim was a continuation of previous allegations that had been and are being resolved by Top Glove.

“The ministry was informed that various measures and actions had been taken by the management of Top Glove to ensure that the world’s largest rubber glove manufacturer complies with all ILO regulations related to labour abuse.

“Among the steps taken by the company was to submit a report prepared by an international consultant from the UK, [namely] Impactt Ltd, to the CBP on March 16, 2021 for evaluation,” he said.

Besides, he said the company had taken all necessary steps required by US authorities to ensure that the problems can be addressed promptly.

According to an international news report on Tuesday, the US CBP Office of Trade had published forced labour findings against Top Glove in the Customs Bulletin and in the Federal Register.

The US CBP also directed authorities at all US ports of entry to begin seizing disposable gloves produced by Top Glove.

Impactt, in a statement on March 9, 2021, said it attested that it found no systematic forced labour in the operations of Top Glove based on the findings of the evaluation conducted.

The ministry was also informed last year that the company had spent RM136 million to reduce the debt burden of migrant workers imposed by employment agencies.

This measure was part of the zero cost recruitment and social compliance audit policy implemented by the company since 2019.