Demand for rubber gloves because of Covid-19 saw profits soar at Top Glove, the world’s largest rubber glove maker. But this drew attention to labour abuses in their Malaysian factories, including forced labour and debt bondage. Campaigners raised these issues in the media and pushed governments to ban Top Glove products.
New Zealand has been part of international activism in support of Top Glove workers. Foodstuffs, the country’s largest supermarket chain, and Ebos, the largest healthcare supplier, also stopped stocking Top Glove products. Vitally the U.S. Customs Bureau found Top Glove in breach of forced labour and debt bondage laws.
Top Glove responded by agreeing to pay remediation to current and former employees covered by the recruitment debt policy implemented in January 2019. However, hundreds of workers who had returned to Nepal from Malaysia during Covid-19 have not received any payment.
To ensure they get their dues, Yubraj Khadka, a Nepalese ex-employee and whistleblower, has been funded by UnionAID to help these former employees. To date he has assisted 48 former migrant workers submit claims that, if all successful, will result in over $100,000 in remediation payments. This is a significant pay out to families struggling under Nepal’s COVID-19 lockdown.