Top Glove denies worker exploitation claims in British TV report

The health ministry affirmed that checks at Top Glove’s factory in Klang on May 5 showed it followed guidelines set out in the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 in a ‘very satisfactory’ manner. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Top Glove today said a Channel 4 News video that purportedly uncovered migrant worker exploitation and slack social distancing measures was “highly inaccurate”.

The investigation by the UK-based channel was aired on Tuesday and allegedly revealed poor living conditions in cramped hostels, with up to 24 workers per room.

Channel 4 News also accused Top Glove, the world’s largest rubber glove manufacturer, of making illegal deductions from workers’ salaries and failing to properly enforce social distancing at its factories, hostels and transport facilities – with workers fearful of catching Covid-19 as a result.

“Every employee’s safety, health and wellbeing has always been of utmost importance to Top Glove, all the more during this Covid-19 era,” said William Yap, Top Glove’s general manager of human resources.

“We are committed to adhering to internationally recognised standards in our social compliance practices. Since January 2019, we have attended to more than 100 international external audits at Top Glove’s factories.

“The positive outcomes of audits, such as those conducted by SMETA and the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), reflect excellent progress in our social compliance, where concentrated efforts were made to enhance our labour practices comprehensively to meet stringent international requirements,” he added in a statement.

In an e-mail to FMT, Top Glove also attached a copy of a report by the health ministry, dated May 5, which stated that the company’s Factory 9 in Klang followed guidelines set out in the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 in a manner that was “very satisfactory”.

The company said other relevant authorities, such as the international trade and investment ministry (Miti) and the Department of Labour had also conducted visits and spot checks at Top Glove’s factories and workers’ accommodation to confirm “optimum compliance” with standard operating procedures.

Channel 4 also alleged some workers at Top Glove’s factories had to clock up to 111 hours in overtime per month as the company tried to meet increased production targets during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen a surge in demand for rubber gloves and surgical gloves.

Top Glove last week announced record profits of RM348 million for the third quarter ending May 31, 2020, a 365% year-on-year increase and a 202% quarter-on-quarter rise.

Top Glove, which has 45 factories, has 19,000 employees and produces 78.7 billion gloves each year.

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