Glovemakers act on worker welfare

Top Glove, Hartalega address concerns on remediation fees in order to ensure market access abroad

by NUR HANANI AZMAN/ pic by TMR FILE

WITH labour practices under scrutiny, local glovemakers Top Glove Corp Bhd and Hartalega Holdings Bhd have moved to address some of the concerns raised to ensure market access for their products abroad.

Top Glove announced it has made the first remediation payment of RM4.4 million in respect of its migrant workers who joined the company prior to the implementation of its Zero Cost Recruitment Policy in January 2019.

The total remediation fee to be paid is estimated at RM53 million, subject to finalisation with the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the rubber glovemaker stated yesterday.

“Top Glove continues to actively engage the US CBP towards resolving the Withhold Release Order expeditiously,” it stated.

The US placed a detention order on the group’s disposable gloves recently, followed by New Zealand’s largest retail grocery organisation Foodstuffs’ move to remove Top Glove products from its shelves.

The company, however, said it has been compliant with local labour laws, and has implemented environmental, health and safety measures for its workers.

Top Glove stressed the group in fact is the first glove manufacturer to invest in a Zero Harm and Safety Health Emergency Preparedness Program since May 2019.

“We own and operate a 24-hour in-house medical facility and ambulatory centre for the welfare and safety of our employees. Top Glove is one of the very few manufacturing companies with a dedicated team of  12 wellness professionals,” it added.

Top Glove’s shares closed 3.34% or 94 sen lower to RM27.20 yesterday, valuing the glove manufacturer at RM73.55 billion.

Hartalega, meanwhile, will reimburse a total of up to RM40 million in recruitment fees previously paid by its migrant workers to employment agents during the recruitment process.

“We are strongly committed to continuously enhancing our social compliance policies in line with international benchmarks. This is an ongoing process that we always strive to improve on and we are pleased to mark our progress to date with the reimbursement of recruitment fees,” Hartalega CEO Kuan Mun Leong (picture) said in a statement yesterday.

This follows its previous Zero Recruitment Cost Policy instituted in April 2019, to protect the welfare of migrant workers and ensure that they are free from any recruitment costs.

Kuan said the issue of recruitment fees paid to third parties by migrant workers is a complex global issue, requiring multistakeholder involvement to reach a solution as it is a shared responsibility.

Over the past year, Hartalega has been engaging multiple stakeholders to find a solution.

“Towards the later part of 2019, we made the decision to remediate migrant workers who joined us prior to our Zero Recruitment Cost Policy. Earlier this year, we appointed a third-party non-profit organisation with a proven track record in social compliance and recruitment fee remediation to conduct interviews with affected workers,” he said.

Kuan noted that the group targets to begin remediation by the fourth quarter of 2020, to be completed over the span of up to 24 months. The process will be reviewed by another external independent party.

At close yesterday, Hartalega fell 4.08% or 78 sen to RM18.36, valuing it at RM62.93 billion.