Canadian news outlet exposes poor working, living conditions at Malaysia’s Top Glove

Screencaps of CBC’s video against a photo of Top Glove’s Malaysian HQ. Photo: Coconuts
Screencaps of CBC’s video against a photo of Top Glove’s Malaysian HQ. Photo: Coconuts

UPDATE: Top Glove says ‘misleading and damaging’ Canadian report omits new company policies

An investigative report by the Canadian Broadcasting Company has exposed shocking footage that purportedly showed poor working and living conditions of migrant workers from Malaysia’s glove industry. 

Malaysia’s glove industry is said to be among the world’s biggest and is responsible for the bulk of gloves entering Canada through more than a dozen companies, the CBC said in its Friday report, which had also pressured the Canadian government to do more about imports sourced from companies tied to elements of forced labor including debt bondage. 

“They don’t care about the worker,” an employee was quoted as saying. “They just want you to work. They just want product.” 

Read: Virus-stricken gloves factory confirms first COVID-19 death – a Nepali security guard

Most employees CBC spoke to said they could not afford to quit their jobs due to debts owed to lenders in order to pay recruitment agency fees. 

Several Malaysian glove companies were named in the in-depth report, including Top Glove, where the coronavirus exploded late last year and killed one employee, as well as Smart Glove and Kosan Rubber Industries. The Canadian media outlet said it had spoken to several of Malaysia’s current and former glove factory workers, including one person they gave the name “Hari” to protect his identity. Hari had apparently shared videos of the situation inside the Top Glove factory as well as its dorms prior to the massive COVID-19 outbreak. 

Read: Malaysia begins screening 1.7 million workers for COVID-19 after factory cases

The scenes showed about 30 people sleeping in the same dorm room and unsanitary toilets. At the workplace, workers were filmed being assaulted, getting into an accident, not practicing safe distancing, and conducting electrical repairs without proper safety equipment. 

The videos also showed workers lining up closely to get their temperatures checked and not wearing masks while working on the production line.  

Top Glove has up to 21,000 staff in Malaysia and hires mainly migrant workers from Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, and Indonesia. 

Its factories along Jalan Meru in the Klang district recorded nearly 7,000 COVID-19 infections in December and were shut down nearly a month until Jan. 6. Infections have not stopped at its factories. 

Those located in Port Dickson, Sungai Puloh, Shah Alam and Kedah were hit by another COVID-19 outbreak Saturday. Workers went for mass COVID-19 screenings yesterday. The factories were allowed to continue operating. 

Malaysia has reported 158,434 cases and 601 deaths since the start of the outbreak. 

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