World’s top glovemaker vows action after labour rights expose in Malaysia

Migrant workers at the firm often work long hours to earn overtime pay to clear debts to recruitment agents back home.

Malaysian company Top Glove Corp. Bhd, the world’s top glovemaker, said on Monday it would “continue to improve” its labour standards after a Thomson Reuters Foundation expose found some migrants working illegal overtime to pay off debts.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation revealed on Thursday that migrant workers at the firm often work long hours to earn overtime pay to clear debts to recruitment agents back home, and in some cases exceed the legal overtime limit.

Speaking at a press conference in Malaysia, Top Glove’s executive chairman and founder Lim Wee Chai said “only a small number” of workers had done excessive overtime.

“We do our part, we do it correctly, we have no pressure, we still can sleep very well tonight,” he told reporters at a Top Glove factory in Klang, an industrial area outside Kuala Lumpur.

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

Britain’s health ministry said it would investigate standards at Top Glove - which makes rubber gloves sold to Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) - after being presented with the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s findings last week.

We do our part, we do it correctly, we have no pressure, we still can sleep very well tonight.

Lim Wee Chai, executive chairman and founder, Top Glove

Lim said Top Glove had not received any inquiries or complaint from the British authorities.

Top Glove’s share price fell 5.9 percent on Monday - to 5.55 Malaysian ringgit ($1.33) - following the expose on the links between the company and Britain’s health service which was published on Sunday.

“The share price … is temporary, up or down is temporary,” Lim added.

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

This story was published with permission from Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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