Malaysian government to meet with firms accused of forced labor

Bangkok, Jan 30 (EFE).- Malaysia’s human resources minister said on Sunday that he is going to meet palm oil and glove manufacturing industries amid forced labor allegations that have led the United States to ban their products.

The announcement by M. Saravanan comes after the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Friday banned imports from Malaysian disposable glove maker YTY for suspected forced labor practices.

This is the seventh such ban on a Malaysian company in two years.

The US customs authority also indicated that they will seize the products of the Malaysian palm oil company Sime Darby, also due to alleged forced labor.

“I am committed to addressing this issue immediately to ensure Malaysia is no longer associated with forced labor practices. All companies that are subject to these export restrictions need to improve their internal practices and tough action will be taken against companies that are still in default,” Saravanan said in a statement.

The Malaysian minister added that he will also invite companies including glove makers WRP Asia Pacific and Top Glove, who had a ban on their products by the CBP lifted after improving their labor practices.

“The approaches implemented by these two companies can be used as guidelines and improvements for other firms,” Saravanan said.

The confiscation of passports, weeks without days off, working more than 84 hours in a week, movement restrictions and unfair pay cuts are just some of the exploitative practices reported in Malaysia by migrant workers, who generally stay in overcrowded dormitories.

Malaysian glove makers, including Top Glove, Supermax and Riverstone, have seen their profits multiply as demand for medical gloves soared due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last year, the Malaysian government announced an action plan against forced labor that aims to eliminate abuses such as overwork, unsanitary dormitories and debt bondage that leave workers in a situation similar to slavery. EFE


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