PETALING JAYA: US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) says it has yet to verify whether Top Glove Corp has resolved all 11 International Labour Organization (ILO) indicators on forced labour before it can lift the withhold release order against its products.
On Monday, Top Glove, the world’s largest glovemaker, said it had resolved the 11 ILO indicators. It said this has been verified by Impactt, an independent consultant based in the UK, which it hired to monitor its efforts to eradicate forced labour.
Top Glove managing director Lee Kim Meow had said earlier it would engage with CBP to lift the withhold release order against its products once the 11 indicators had been resolved.
However, CBP told FMT there is still some work to do before Top Glove’s products can enter the US once again.
Stating that Impactt’s social compliance audits are conducted independently of CBP, a spokesman for the agency said “it continues to evaluate information submitted by Top Glove in support of its petition to modify last month’s forced labour finding, which saw the seizure of its disposable gloves at all US ports of entry”.
“CBP independently verifies all information submitted in support of petitions to modify or revoke withhold release orders and forced labour findings,” the spokesman said in an email.
“CBP will not modify or revoke a withhold release order or forced labour finding until all indicators of forced labour identified by the agency have been fully remediated.”
The spokesman said while social compliance audits can be “very useful” if they are done independently and with the aim of identifying gaps and vulnerabilities, access to facilities, records and employees, without the interference of supervisory personnel, is important to ensure an accurate assessment of whether forced labour indicators still exist.
“Unannounced third-party audits can provide important evidence in support of petitions to modify or revoke withhold release orders or forced labour findings,” the email said.
“However, CBP reviews the totality of available information when evaluating such a petition.”
In July last year, CBP issued a withhold release order on two subsidiaries of Top Glove after stating that it had reasonable, but not conclusive, information to indicate that it produced goods with forced labour.
Top Glove launched a petition against the order.
Late last month, CBP directed personnel at all US ports of entry to seize disposable gloves produced by the company after “sufficient information” that it used forced labour in the production of disposable gloves in Malaysia triggered a forced labour finding.
Impactt, in a report earlier this week, stated that it is its opinion that Top Glove has eliminated “all indicators of systematic forced labour” after resolving five remaining indicators as of this month – retention of identity documents, deception, debt bondage, physical and sexual violence, and intimidation.
Top Glove made a RM150 million payment to workers as remediation for recruitment fees, and has also invested about RM300 million for its workers’ accommodation.