Malaysia’s Smart Glove says it opposes forced labour after U.S. import ban

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KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s Smart Glove on Saturday said it was opposed to forced labour and committed to the well-being of its workers, after the United States banned imports from the rubber glove maker for alleged forced labour practices.

On Thursday, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a “Withhold Release Order” prohibiting imports from Smart Glove and its group of companies, citing what the CBP called reasonable evidence that indicates “Smart Glove production facilities utilise forced labour”.

Smart Glove, which makes gloves used in the medical and food industries, became the fifth Malaysian firm in 15 months to be slapped with such a ban.

In an emailed statement, Smart Glove said it had contacted CBP to obtain more information about the ban and that it would look to resolve the action.

“Smart Glove stands against forced labour and is committed to all of our workers’ health, safety and well-being; and we remain dedicated to their welfare,” it said.

Malaysian factories – which make everything from palm oil to medical gloves and iPhone components – have come under increasing scrutiny over allegations of abuse of foreign workers, who form a significant part of the manufacturing workforce.

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Smart Glove’s peers have also faced similar U.S. action over alleged labour abuses.

Supermax Corp, banned last month, has said it will speed up a process it had begun in 2019 to meet International Labour Organisation standards on workers’ welfare.

Top Glove – the world’s largest latex glove maker – was barred by the CBP last July. The ban was lifted last month after the company resolved the labour issues.

(Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)