Malaysian company banned from exporting gloves to US for using forced labour

A Malaysian company has been banned from exporting its rubber gloves to the United States for allegedly using forced labour in making its products, says the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (Margma).

Margma said the ban is not applicable to other companies producing rubber gloves here as a whole, The Star.

The association said that its members have always taken great concerns on the welfare of their workers.

The industry, said Margma, had also worked on social compliance initiatives since last year to continuously improve the welfare of workers in the rubber glove industry.

"We have formed a Social Compliance Committee and organised a national seminar under the purview of the Malaysian Rubber Export Promotion Council (MREPC).

"There is a lot of compliance to be done and there is a lot of work to be carried out to ensure workers' rights, accommodation and general welfare is protected and for these initiatives, time and expenditure are required and together we have drawn out a programme that will make our industry fully in compliance," Margma said in a statement on Wednesday (Oct 2).

It added that it has also engaged and updated the US Embassy and Department of Labour during their visits while trying to implement Social Compliance Standards in the rubber glove industry here.

Margma said it takes social compliance very seriously to ensure the shipments of gloves to the US and other countries are in line with the conditions imposed.

"As a matter of comfort, many American companies do carry out periodic audits on the manufacturers to ensure there is compliance," said Margma.

On Tuesday (Oct 1), the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said it had blocked the import of disposable rubber gloves from a Malaysian company suspected to have been made with forced labour.

Sepang-based rubber maker WRP Asia was one of five companies named. Others included a garment maker from China, a group of artisanal gold miners from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a diamond mining company from Zimbabwe and a bone black manufacturer from Brazil.

The companies were issued a Withhold Release Orders on Monday (Sept 30).

CBP said the move was based on information obtained and reviewed which indicated that the products were produced, in whole or in part, using forced labour.

"CBP's issuing of these five withhold release orders shows that if we suspect a product is made using forced labour, we'll take that product off US shelves," said CBP acting commissioner Mark Morgan in a statement Tuesday.

WRP Asia now has the choice to either re-export the detained shipments or to submit information to CBP demonstrating that the goods were not in violation.

CBP said it received allegations of forced labour from a variety of sources, including news reports and tips from the general public or trade community.

It could also self-initiate an investigation into the use of forced labour in any given supply chain.

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