UK govt ‘buying Malaysian gloves while complaining about slave labour’

21-Jul-2021 Intellasia | FreeMalaysiaToday | 5:02 AM Print This Post

The British government has been criticised for the continued purchase of medical gloves from Malaysia while also complaining about labour conditions in factories here.

The criticisms, by Labour Party MP Bill Esterson, were reproduced in a report by the Independent newspaper’s portal.

The report said UK’s health and social care department (DHSC) had to date bought over 760 million gloves from Malaysian manufacturers since January 2020.

However, the British High Commission in Malaysia, which warned its government last June on the concerns over the rubber glove industry, was now calling for bids from organisations to come up with plans to eradicate slave labour in the Malaysian manufacturing sector.

Esterson, who is the shadow international trade minister, has written a strongly worded letter to trade minister Greg Hands, describing the issue as a “scandal”, the report said.

“We, therefore, face the extraordinary situation where the DHSC has been funding the factories that have caused this scandal, the Foreign Office is now funding projects to tackle this scandal, and the Department of Trade is in the middle, still seemingly unaware that this scandal exists,” he was quoted as saying.

Esterson said his party wanted the British government to carry out a full audit of rubber glove suppliers to the UK to determine how many were resorting to slave labour.

He said the government’s “reckless” approach to free trade meant it was “washing” its hands of people who are being treated like slaves while striking trade agreements with countries that have “appalling track records” for abusing and exploiting workers.

A spokesman for the international trade department told the portal that it took all allegations of slavery very seriously and expected all National Health Service suppliers to follow the highest legal and ethical standards.

According to the report, research published by Newcastle University earlier this month revealed that labour conditions in Malaysian rubber glove factories had worsened during the pandemic.

In March, US Customs and Border Protection seized nearly four million gloves from Top Glove, the world’s largest glove maker, over forced labour in the manufacturing process.


Category: Malaysia

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