Govt to audit Top Glove’s recruitment fee reimbursements

Human Resources Minister M Saravanan (centre) views Top Glove products during his visit to the company’s headquarters in Setia Alam today.

SETIA ALAM: Human Resources Minister M Saravanan today said the government will audit Top Glove’s recruitment fee reimbursement programme to prevent import bans and allegations of forced labour.

Leading glove manufacturer Top Glove has promised to refund up to RM53 million in backdated recruitment fees to its foreign workers in the hope that a US import ban on its medical gloves will be lifted.

The company made an initial payment of RM4.4 million earlier this month.

US Customs and Border Protection has cited forced labour allegations as the main reason for the ban on products from two subsidiaries of the world’s largest medical glove producer. The reimbursement of the recruitment fees is one of the prerequisites for the lifting of the order.

“Yes, definitely,” said Saravanan when asked if the ministry will audit the payments.

“Otherwise, you will go on and on with these kinds of incidents (import bans).

“We want to put this whole thing to rest. So we will do an audit,” he said after a working visit to Top Glove’s headquarters here.

Saravanan also said the ministry was mulling implementing an electronic wages system to monitor the payment of workers’ salaries and allowances across all sectors.

He said the details of the system would be revealed at a later date.

Foreign workers are often forced to pay high recruitment fees to foreign employment agents to secure jobs in Malaysia, a debt they then work to pay off throughout the duration of their contracts.

Top Glove executive chairman Lim Wee Chai said the payments to the company’s estimated 10,000 foreign workers would be made in 12 instalments.

He said the company had been operating on a “zero recruitment fee” policy since January last year, adding that the issue was new for the industry.

“Nobody was talking about this (recruitment fees) five or 10 years ago,” Lim pointed out.

“We are trying to find a solution. We have created a lot of jobs for them (foreign workers).

“They have a stable income and are very happy working in Malaysia. That’s why they want to come to Malaysia.”