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The world largest glove maker Top Glove said that it has made a significant improvement in rectifying the issue of forced labour surrounding its factories in Malaysia.
In a webinar today, its executive director Lim Cheong Guan highlighted that it had resolved six issues on the list of Forced Labour Indicators issued by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The issues were abuse of a position of vulnerability, restriction of movement, excessive overtime, abusive working and living conditions, isolation and the withholding of wages.
The company is working to solve the other five remaining indicators namely retention of identification documents, deception, debt bondage, physical and sexual violence as well as intimidation.
Lim said on the retention of identity documents, the company had requested the Indonesian recruitment agency to return the documents to its Indonesian workers who involve less than one percent of its workforce.
For the deception indicator, Lim stressed the company had revised on April 5 its Recruitment Agreement and the Undertaking of Recruitment Terms.
For the debt bondage indicator, the company, he said, had paid the balance of four months' remediation payment in lump sums to workers on April 2.
The company had also held various programme to create awareness on intimidation, physical and sexual violence and at the same time enhanced its policies besides creating a helpline for workers to report any abuse.
Top Glove was now in the midst of convincing the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) of its commitment to protect the welfare of its workers, he said.
This came after the CBP last month directed all its personnel at US ports to seize disposable gloves produced by Top Glove last following information it had that the company was using forced labour.
"We had a fruitful dialogue with the CBP, we worked on the items mentioned (on the indicator list) that need further rectification and we are glad to know that there were no new issues raised.
"We thank the CBP for their guidance in ensuring we make the necessary improvement [...] we are working with the CBP to have their Withhold Release Orders lifted," said Lim.
Meanwhile, independent migrant worker rights specialist Andy Hall said Top Glove has been making a lot of changes in its bid to rectify the forced labour indicators.
Hall called for the CBP to not single out Top Glove and focus on other companies too.
"Many companies out there, beyond the glove industry, are not subject to the CBP scrutiny. We need to call on the CBP to justify its approach [...] we can't simply carry on focusing on Top Glove," he said.
Asked why Top Glove seemed to be targeted, the company's managing director Lee Kim Meow said: "It's because Top Glove is the biggest (glove) player in the world and attention had gathered around Top Glove because it holds a very extensive market."