Mitigating Workers’ Rights Abuses in Malaysia

14-11-2019

 

In late 2018, allegations of workers’ rights abuses were raised regarding Top Glove, Malaysia based rubber gloves manufacturer linked to a number of our members on the amfori BSCI platform. 

Since then, amfori has undertaken a series of measures, including close follow up with producer management and linked members, launching an investigation and providing training support and legislative updates. As we enter the 4th quarter of 2019, we deem it important to share amfori’s monitoring of the forced labour issues at Top Glove and more generally in Malaysia to date. The publishing of this statement has been discussed at length with Top Glove:

 

1. amfori established a dedicated auditing task force for Malaysia: this is formed of representatives from auditing companies with whom we partner and amfori members.  Its mandate is to examine and produce specific guidance with auditors who are active in the country.

 

2. Continuous stakeholder engagement: we have maintained a continuous dialogue with the government as well as other stakeholders to advocate the urgency of addressing human rights abuses in Malaysia:

• Under the leadership of amfori, we built an alliance with the ETI, IEH, ICS, SAI and Sedex. Here, we sent a joint letter to the Malaysian government to express our combined concerns about allegations of severe violations of workers’ and human rights, particularly against migrant workers.

• We were invited to participate in a Malaysian Government stakeholder dialogue. Here, amfori discussed key elements for the drafting of National Action Plan under the UN Guiding Principles for Business on Human Rights

• amfori met with various stakeholders relevant to the country. These included Mr Nikolaus Graf Lambsdorff, (German Ambassador to Malaysia) and two Commissioners of Human Rights in Malaysia. Together, the parties expressed the importance of embedding considerations for human rights across the supply chain in the Government’s drafting of their National Action Plan.  

• We are working closely with the IOM to address forced labour issues in Asia. This will include co-hosting round table discussions with members and supply chain partners. The aim of these discussions will be to engage stakeholders to advocate for more legal enforcement in the countries of origin and destination. Possible results here will prevent the future occurrence of labour abuses in the region.

 

3. Remediation plan and outstanding challenges: Top Glove shared their progress of the remediation plan with amfori and our members. While some positive progress has been made, there are significant improvements needed in the critical areas concerning excessive working hours and migrant workers recruitment issues

 

To encourage Top Glove’s management to rectify outstanding challenges, amfori issued a letter to the organisation on behalf of our members. Recommendations in this communication included the invitation of Top Glove recruitment agencies to join the International Organisation for Migration’s (IOM) IRIS programme. This programme will assist

Top Glove to deliver responsible recruitment services for migrant workers. In addition, dedicated sessions for internal CSR and internal auditors’ training are planned in quarter four with support from amfori.

amfori and its members have made dedicated resources and efforts to support Top Glove. Nevertheless, critical success factors depend not just on the management’s leadership but also how well their supply chain partners - e.g. recruitment agencies and governmental support – can be leveraged to work towards the same goal.

 

Next steps

By year-end 2019, amfori will review the results of the above supporting efforts at Top Glove and Malaysia and assess next steps in monitoring issues in a more holistic manner.  

amfori strongly calls for Top Glove’s continuous collaboration in tackling these challenges. Their commitment from top management can greatly influence their partners to swiftly resolve these issues. 

On the other hand, local legal experts have suggested that the shortage of manpower in Malaysia could possibly be resolved if the local law can be adjusted to allow a large number of refugees to be trained and work.  

amfori is exploring if this could be a more sustainable solution to protect the rights of the refugees already living in the country. This would also avoid importing “high cost” migrant workers who are frequently abused in the workplace.  

amfori will continue to collaborate with all key players involved in the case and welcomes the input from all parties to advance human rights in Malaysia.