KUALA LUMPUR | The Human Resources Ministry has clarified that there are no elements involving forced labour with regards to the detention order enforced on glove manufacturing giant Top Glove Corp Bhd by the US authorities.

In a statement today, the ministry said this was determined through investigations conducted by a combined task force from the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 and movement control order (MCO) in which the company was found to have breached standard operating procedures (SOPs) under the MCO, but that no violations of forced labour were found.

“The investigation was conducted at Top Glove headquarters in Meru, Klang on July 13. The company was found flouting the rules under the recovery MCO, such as no social distancing between workers at the workplace and crowded accommodation for workers.

“The company has since been issued a compound by the Health Ministry and compliance notice by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government,” the statement read.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan has also met Top Glove Corp Bhd and the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association to understand further why two Top Glove subsidiaries, Top Glove Sdn Bhd and TG Medical Sdn Bhd, were issued with the detention order was issued by the United States Customs and Border Protection (USCBP), and subsequently placed on its Withhold Release Order (WRO) list last Thursday.

“The government is committed and will not compromise when it comes to addressing the issue of forced labour in the country.

“(And) since the element of forced labour is also closely related to the issue of accommodation for foreign workers, the ministry has taken into account the enforcement of Minimum Standards Act Employee Housing, Accommodation and Facilities or Act 446 (Amendment) 2019 by the Human Resources Ministry committee which will commence on September 1 this year,” the statement added.

According to the statement, the enforcement of this Act is in line with international standards recommended by Labour Organisation International (ILO).

“The ministry does not want local employers including those in the rubber industry to commit actions that are against Act 446 where employers will be convicted over violations in relation to forced labour,” the statement said.

The Human Resources Ministry also instructed all employers to implement Independent Social Compliance Audit (ISCA) to ensure compliance with the national standards.

The implementation of the ISCA was decided during the Joint Committee Meeting between the home minister and human resources minister last year who agreed on an implementation date of January 1, 2021.

Top Glove has since defended its stand and said the detention order was likely imposed due to the reimbursement needed to be given to workers who previously paid recruitment agent fees to get a job at the glove manufacturing company.