Alleged labour abuses plague Malaysian factories

MALAYSIA: Some of the country's manufacturers face labour abuse allegations from the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP), prompting the US to block their exports.

Latex glove maker brand Supermax is the latest to be banned from entering the American market, following a US investigation that revealed labour abuses in its production practices. CBP official Ann Marie Highsmith said that there is sufficient evidence to prove that Supermax and its subsidiaries violated U.S. trade law. The agency did not elaborate further about the alleged labour abuse.


The company produces about 24 billion gloves annually and exports to more than 160 countries.


In his investigation, migrant rights activist Andy Hall indicated that the workers complained of being unable to leave factory compounds, living in confined shelters, and receiving unjust wage deductions.


In May, when a report surfaced about a CBP probe over alleged unfair workplace practices, the company issued a statement saying it adhered to labour laws in treating its migrant workers, who were usually from Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.


"Existing policies and procedures, guided by local and international policies, are constantly being reviewed for gaps if any, for further improvements," said.


The U.S. already lifted a ban in September for another Malaysian brand, Top Glove, due to previous allegations of labour abuses.


Meanwhile, palm oil plantations Sime Darby Plantation and FGV Holdings were faced with U.S. import bans last year because of labour issues as well.


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