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Forced labour claims in Malaysian glove industry intensify as Covid-19-driven demand leads to significant change in supply chain — report

The Edge Markets, Malaysia, 9 July 2021 - The ongoing presence of forced labour indicators in the Malaysian rubber glove manufacturing industry demonstrates a need for existing legislative and policy measures to go further to address modern slavery, labour exploitation and poor working conditions in supply chains amid increased demand for medical gloves during the Covid-19 pandemic, a July 2021 report published by the UK-based Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre claimed.

According to the research summary of the report titled "Forced labour in the Malaysian medical gloves supply chain during the Covid-19 pandemic”, labour issues in the rubber glove supply chain are longstanding based on International Labour Organization's (ILO) framework.

"Using the ILO’s indicators of forced labour as a framework, our research found evidence of all forced labour indicators before and during the Covid-19 pandemic, with evidence that four of the 11 indicators worsened during the pandemic.

"In addition, there was a significant risk of transmission of Covid-19 among workers in glove factories,” the summary said.

According to the summary, authors of the report include Impactt Ltd contributors Ben Bostock, Emily Day and Rosey Hurst besides Newcastle University contributors James Brown and Alex Hughes.

The summary said the research was conducted between August 2020 and April 2021.

"It took a supply chain approach, including a survey of 1,491 (mainly migrant) workers in Malaysia, 11 interviews with migrant workers and 14 interviews with manufacturers in Malaysia and with government officials, suppliers, and procurement managers in the UK. Surveyed workers and interviewees were asked about their experiences prior to and during the pandemic.

"This research focused on labour issues and indicators of forced labour in the production of medical examination gloves in Malaysia, and supply to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), during the Covid-19 pandemic. Against the backdrop of an already challenging situation regarding working conditions in this sector, the pandemic placed further pressure on labour standards, due to significantly increased demand for gloves and risks associated with Covid-19 transmission among workers.

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Source: https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/forced-labour-claims-malaysian-glove-industry-covid19driven-demand-leads-significant-change

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