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Top Glove Claims to Resolve Forced-Labor Failures

Malaysian manufacturer Top Glove, which found itself the object of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) forced labor action last month, announced that it has resolved all 11 International Labor Organization (ILO) indicators of forced labor.

The resolution of the 11 ILO indicators of forced labor was verified by independent international consultant Impactt Limited in a report dated April 22. In late March, CBP directed personnel at all U.S. ports of entry to seize disposable gloves produced by Top Glove Corporation in Malaysia after obtaining “sufficient information” that the company uses forced labor in their production.

This came after the CBP Office of Trade, in collaboration with the Secretary of the Treasury, published a “forced labor finding” in the Customs Bulletin and in the Federal Register announcing its determination that certain disposable gloves have been “mined, produced or manufactured” in Malaysia by Top Glove “with the use of convict, forced or indentured labor, and are being, or are likely to be, imported into the United States.”

Troy Miller, senior official performing the duties of the CBP commissioner, said at the time that the forced labor finding was the result of a months-long CBP investigation “aimed at preventing goods made by modern slavery from entering U.S. commerce.”

The finding was an expansion of a Withhold Release Order issued in July that detained the same products based on “reasonable but not conclusive” evidence of multiple forced labor indicators in Top Glove’s manufacturing, debt bondage, excessive overtime, retention of identity documents and abusive working and living conditions.

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Top Glove said Monday that since July, the company has engaged Impactt to advise on measures for improving its labor policies and practices. In March, the company said it had five ILO indicators of forced labor that indicates “further progress made” and was one step away from a category that indicates full resolution of the forced labor indicators.

Impactt’s said in its report posted on its website that the findings of the third verification carried out in April showed Top Glove had made further progress to close the six indicators of forced labor indicators remaining in January–retention of identity documents, abusive working and living conditions, deception, debt bondage, physical and sexual violence and intimidation.

“In Impactt’s opinion, as at April 2021, and considering the group’s ongoing actions, these indicators are no longer present at Top Glove at a level to indicate systemic forced labor,” the report said.

“Towards this, Top Glove has effectively resolved all 11 ILO indicators of forced labor as of April 22,” the company said. “While the company is pleased to have resolved all the aforementioned ILO indicators of forced labor, we assure our stakeholders of our continued efforts to improve the welfare of our employees. We remain committed to be the best company that we can become, ensuring high quality welfare, health, safety, working conditions and living accommodation of our 21,000 strong workforce.”

CBP did not respond to an inquiry on the status of the case.