KL to act after top glove maker admits breaking labour laws

Top Glove makes one in every four pairs of rubber gloves used globally. The Malaysian company is a major supplier of medical and rubber gloves to 195 countries, and employs over 11,000 migrant workers from countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh and Indi
Top Glove makes one in every four pairs of rubber gloves used globally. The Malaysian company is a major supplier of medical and rubber gloves to 195 countries, and employs over 11,000 migrant workers from countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh and India.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

KLANG (Selangor) • Malaysia yesterday said it would take action against Top Glove Corp, the world's top glove maker, which admitted breaching labour laws after a Thomson Reuters Foundation expose found some migrants working illegal overtime to pay off debts.

The foundation revealed last Thursday that migrant workers at the Malaysian company often work long hours to help clear debts to recruitment agents back home - and in some cases exceed the legal overtime limit.

Top Glove executive chairman and founder Lim Wee Chai told a press conference that "a small number" of workers had done excessive overtime and the firm would "continue to improve" its labour standards. "We do our part, we do it correctly, we have no pressure, we still can sleep very well tonight," he said at a Top Glove factory in Klang.

"We will continue to do good, if there is any feedback, anything no good, we will continue to improve."

Malaysian Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said action would be taken against Top Glove for breaching labour laws.

Under Malaysian laws, workers should be given a rest day each week and work no more than 104 hours of overtime a month.

The company "admitted (to this) so we will take the necessary action", Mr Kulasegaran said. "We will strictly enforce (the labour law) and we will prevent them from bringing in foreign workers if they breach this regulation."

 
 

The Labour Ministry said Top Glove could face a fine of up to RM10,000 (S$3,300) if found guilty of breaching labour laws on excessive overtime.

The British Health Ministry has said it would investigate standards at Top Glove - which makes rubber gloves sold to Britain's National Health Service (NHS).

The Thomson Reuters Foundation found that at least one Top Glove product is supplied to the NHS via a British firm, raising doubts about Britain's capacity to ensure its medical supply chain is free of labour abuses.

Mr Lim said Top Glove, which has 40 factories with 35 in Malaysia, has not had any complaint from the British authorities.

Top Glove's share price fell about 5.9 per cent yesterday to RM5.55. The company, which is also listed on the Singapore Exchange, saw its share slide 5.5 per cent to close at $1.89 yesterday in Singapore.

"The share price... is temporary, up or down is temporary," Mr Lim said.

The company, which produces one in every four pairs of rubber gloves used globally, said last week that it would cut ties with unethical recruitment agents, and that it has introduced changes this year to ensure workers get adequate rest.

Top Glove, a major supplier of medical and rubber gloves to 195 countries, employs more than 11,000 migrant workers from countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and India.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 11, 2018, with the headline 'KL to act after top glove maker admits breaking labour laws'. Print Edition | Subscribe