Latest modern slavery fight updates -

Top Glove becomes latest rubber glove company blocked for forced labor

  • Published on
    July 17, 2020
  • News Source Image
  • Category:
    Forced Labor, Law & Policy, Supply Chain
Hero Banner

The world’s largest medical glove maker has been hit with an import ban in the U.S. as a result of suspected forced labor at its subsidiaries.

Goods from certain subsidiaries of Top Glove Corp Bhd, a Malaysian company which also has facilities in China and Thailand, will now be blocked at U.S. ports of entry by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) per a “withhold and release” order.

While CBP’s website does not currently provide details of the move against Top Glove, import blocks of this type are specific to forced labor-related abuses.

The move is likely to relate to debt bondage and abusive recruitment practices of migrant workers, which remain a major issue in the region.

Migrant rights activist Andy Hall, who Freedom United has long supported, argued that broad change in the glove industry is needed to adequately protect migrant workers from forced labor.

Reuters reports: 

Independent migrant worker rights specialist Andy Hall said in a note to reporters on Thursday that forced foreign labour in Malaysia’s gloves industry can only be addressed and reduced when past recruitment fees and related costs, which hold such workers in debt bondage, are fully repaid.

“In order to ensure no future debt bondage of these workers, ethical recruitment practices or zero cost recruitment policies should be put in place in practice, if the industry moves ahead to recruit more foreign workers in the future,” he said.

As a result of the pandemic, demand for medical gloves and other protective equipment is at a record high, particularly in the United States.

Malaysia is predicted to meet two-thirds of global demand for rubber gloves this year, which is expected to rise over 11 percent to 330 billion pieces.

A previous CBP withhold-release order on another medical glove maker, WRP, was lifted in March in what many activists saw as a purely practical move to ensure the U.S.’s supply—and not reflective of major changes in labor practices.

Officials from Top Glove, which has experienced unprecedented growth as a result of the increased demand, said the company was looking into the matter and admitted it had yet to fully address the issue of recruitment fees.

Top Glove subsidiaries not affected by the ban, representing half of U.S. sales, will meanwhile continue to ship goods freely.


Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

This week

European cocaine gangs using forced labor to exploit children

A recent investigation by The Guardian found the continent’s £10bn appetite for cocaine has led to forced child labor on an equally massive scale. Increasingly powerful drug cartels are forcing hundreds, possibly thousands, of unaccompanied child migrants to work as drug sellers on European streets. They do this to meet the growing demand for cocaine in cities including Paris and Brussels. Industrial scale exploitation The increase in refugees

| Tuesday June 11, 2024

Read more