Editor’s Note – We hereby publish Top Glove’s request as follows:
Top Glove wishes to reaffirm that we have resolved the 11 ILO indicators of forced labour, as verified by independent international UK consultant, Impactt Ltd (Impactt), as per our earlier statement dated April 26 which can be viewed here.
While the verification by Impactt indicates that we are on the right path in this area, we understand that the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is presently working to review our submission.
Accordingly, we also reaffirm our commitment to liaise closely with the CBP through this process towards the expeditious resolution and revocation of the Withhold Release Order (WRO). The Company is hopeful that the WRO will be lifted/modified.
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HOLD your horses for your jubilation may be short-lived.
Such could well be the message for Top Glove Bhd which recently claimed to have ‘passed with flying colours’ the litmus test as per the 11 International Labour Organization’s (ILO) indicators of forced labour.
This is because its biggest ‘adversary’, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), has yet to verify whether world’s largest glover maker has resolved all the 11 ILO indicators to enable it to lift the withhold release order (WRO) against its products.
Apparently, CBP has just informed news portal Free Malaysia Today (FMT) that there is still some work to do before Top Glove’s products can re-enter the US.
Stating that consultant Impactt’s social compliance audits are conducted independently of CBP, a spokesman for the latter told FMT that “it continues to evaluate information submitted by Top Glove in support of its petition to modify last month’s forced labour finding which saw the seizure of its disposable gloves at all US ports of entry”.
“CBP independently verifies all information submitted in support of petitions to modify or revoke withhold release orders and forced labour findings,” the spokesman pointed out in an e-mail to the news portal.
“CBP will not modify or revoke a WRO or forced labour finding until all indicators of forced labour identified by the agency have been fully remediated.”
Unless Top Glove is able to convince CBP to reverse its decision soon, the issue could have unfavourable spill-over effect on its proposed dual listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) or even poses major financial consequences.
On Wednesday, FocusM carried an exclusive article entitled Top Glove Begins a New Chapter But Past “Scars’ Cannot Be Easily Erased to depict the very fact that while the glove maker has turned a new leaf, “the history of recruitment fee payment at Top Glove (as in the case of other similar industry leaders) has been a sensitive and long standing issue”.
“My personal engagement with recruitment agents who have been long-time suppliers to Top Glove and other such companies indicates that there is an element of kickbacks/corruption that should have been resolved a long time ago,” said independent migrant worker rights specialist Andy Hall.
“I haven’t come across anyone held accountable, blacklisted, reported to authorities for any of this.”
Commenting on the latest development which did not come as a surprise to him, Hall who sympathised with the glove maker, reiterated the need to begin evaluating critically CBP’s approach towards Top Glove.
“We may have to question its ongoing reluctance to withdraw the forced labour trade-related finding at a time when other leading companies in Malaysia are doing far less than Top Glove to ensure the welfare of their workers, yet they are still not similarly subject to CBP trade enforcement action,” he told FocusM.
“It is time to acknowledge positive momentum forward shown by Top Glove’s leadership to effectively seek to identify, remediate and prevent systemic forced labour indicators from being present in the company’s direct operations and supply chain.”
A vocal critic of worker conditions at Top Glove, Hall has recently adopted a ‘critical friend’ approach to the company “for the greater good of all quarters”.
“I look forward to working together with Top Glove to ensure migrant worker’s rights and worker welfare are continually prioritised within the company’s direct operations and its vast supply chain,” he envisages.
“Ensuring social dialogue, the payment of a living wage with generous incentives to its workers as well as protection of whistleblowers and enhanced workplace health and safety is essential for moving forward.” – April 30, 2021