Ministry denies migrant workers at Top Glove forced to work overtime

Migrant workers at the Top Glove factory in Klang. The Human Resources Minister visited the factory following reports of mistreatment of the workers. (Bernama pic)

KLANG: The Human Resources Ministry has found that there was no element of coercion on foreign workers to work overtime at Top Glove Bhd, the world’s largest rubber glove manufacturer.

Its minister M Kulasegaran said inspections by his officers at almost all factories owned by the company here and in Ipoh, Perak, found that foreign workers in the company were working overtime voluntarily as they wanted to earn more money to send back to their families.

“I do not deny some foreign workers are working longer than permitted under the Employment Act and we will take action. The management of Top Glove has given its commitment to overcome the problem but I can give the assurance that no foreign workers are forced to work overtime in the factories,” he said after visiting a Top Glove factory in East Meru Industrial Park here today.

Also present were Peninsular Malaysia Manpower Department director-general Mohd Jeffrey Joakim, Top Glove executive chairman Lim Wee Chai and the company’s executive director, Lim Cheong Guan.

The inspection was conducted following a report by a foreign newspaper that migrant workers at Top Glove were mistreated.

Kulasegaran said investigations by ministry officers found all other allegations made in the report to be baseless.

“The company operates according to the relevant act and regulations,” he said.

Last Friday, a United Kingdom newspaper, “The Guardian” in its report claimed the company oppressed thousands of workers including forcing them to work overtime exceeding 160 hours a month, which was more than the 104 hours overtime stipulated under the Employment Act 1955.

There are about 10,000 foreign workers in 35 factories owned by Top Glove.

According to the report, foreign workers were turned into forced labour by working forced overtime, faced debt problems, were confined and their passports seized.

Following the report, the shares of Top Glove plunged in early trading today, falling 5.93% or 33 sen to RM5.57 with 1.2 million shares changing hands.

Meanwhile, Wee Chai said in the same media conference that there were grave errors in the newspaper report.

“The report said we make a profit of 1 billion Pound Sterling (RM5.29 billion) last year, but actually our profit is about RM450 million or around 80 million Pound Sterling and the United Kingdom contributes only 0.5% of our sales,” he said.

He went on to describe the report as irresponsible and said he was prepared to cooperate with any party, locally or abroad to investigate the company.