File Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP
The United States will seize merchandise made by Malaysia’s Top Glove after concluding the agency makes use of pressured labour, officers mentioned, dealing a recent blow to the world’s largest surgical glove maker.
Top Glove’s income and inventory value surged final yr as international locations worldwide rushed to purchase protecting gear through the Covid-19 pandemic.
But the agency, which might produce greater than 96 billion gloves a yr, has been rocked by a sequence of scandals together with a virus outbreak in dormitories that contaminated hundreds of migrant employees.
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had already banned gloves from two of Top Glove’s subsidiaries final yr after saying it suspected the corporate was committing labour abuses.
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It went a step additional on Monday, asserting it had “sufficient information” to conclude that Top Glove makes use of pressured labour. The federal company mentioned it could seize any gloves manufactured by the agency at US ports of entry.
“CBP will not tolerate foreign companies’ exploitation of vulnerable workers to sell cheap, unethically made goods to American consumers,” mentioned Troy Miller, a CBP senior official.
The company mentioned the transfer wouldn’t have a major affect on US imports of disposable gloves, important for combatting the devastating US virus outbreak.
Top Glove’s shares had been down greater than 5 % following the information.
Announcing the preliminary ban final yr, CBP mentioned it believed there was proof of debt bondage, extreme extra time, and abusive working and dwelling circumstances in Top Glove’s manufacturing processes.
The firm mentioned Tuesday it was in search of to resolve the matter with US authorities.
“Top Glove understands the concerns of all our stakeholders, including CBP, to ensure that forced labour is not present in the manufacturing of gloves and personal protective equipment,” it mentioned in a press release.
“This is the Company’s shared top priority, and it seeks to resolve any ongoing areas of concern immediately.”
Many of Top Glove’s employees are low-paid migrants from South Asia, who’re usually housed in dormitories the place dozens of males share a room and sleep on bunk beds.
The coronavirus outbreak at Top Glove dormitories contaminated about 5,000 employees — 1 / 4 of the corporate’s workforce — and led to the short-term closure of over half of its factories in Malaysia.
Earlier in March, Top Glove was charged by Malaysian authorities with offering poor housing for its employees, and faces hefty fines if convicted.
The firm has insisted it’s bettering its workers’ lodging by making substantial investments and constructing new dormitories.