Forced labour claims in Malaysian glove industry as Covid-19

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  • 09 Jul 2021
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Forced labour claims in Malaysian glove industry intensify as Covid-19-driven demand leads to significant change in supply chain — report

The ongoing presence of forced labour indicators in the Malaysian rubber glove manufacturing industry demonstrates a need for existing legislative and policy measures to go further to address modern slavery, labour exploitation and poor working conditions in supply chains amid increased demand for medical gloves during the Covid-19 pandemic, a July 2021 report published by the UK-based Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre claimed. According to the research summary of the report titled "Forced labour in the Malaysian medical gloves supply chain during the Covid-19 pandemic”, labour issues in the rubber glove supply chain are longstanding based on International Labour Organization's (ILO) framework. According to allegations in the summary, there was a shift in power towards glove manufacturers with decisions about distribution, pricing, and payment terms more firmly in their hands, increased pressure on existing workers and reduced opportunities for ethical procurement. "Manufacturers, the Malaysian government, and governments and recruitment agencies in migrant workers’ countries of origin should work together to monitor and improve labour recruitment processes, especially to eliminate fee payment, and provide workers with accessible and accurate information about available jobs. Due diligence in procurement should include prevention, mitigation, and remediation of debt bondage connected to recruitment fees,” the summary said.

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