WASHINGTON—U.S. customs officials are seizing disposable gloves made by Top Glove Corp. due to alleged forced labor by the company.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection ruled Top Glove, the world's largest glove maker, found that gloves produced in Malaysia by Top Glove used forced labor after investigating the matter for months, the agency said.
The ruling comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the U.S. and the world, and the need for personal protective equipment remains.
"CBP has taken steps to ensure that this targeted enforcement action against Top Glove will not have a significant impact on total U.S. imports of disposable gloves," John Leonard, CBP acting executive assistant commissioner for trade, said in a statement.
"We continue to work with our interagency partners to ensure that the personal protective equipment, medical devices and pharmaceuticals needed for the COVID-19 response are cleared for entry as expeditiously as possible while verifying that those goods are authorized and safe for use," he continued.
Top Glove, for its part, said it is reviewing the ruling but had recently submitted a report prepared by independent consultant Impactt regarding its employment practices.
"Since July 2020 Top Glove has engaged Impactt to advise on measures for improving its policies and practices. Impactt issued a statement on March 9, 2021, that their findings confirmed that there is no systemic forced labor across the eleven International Labour Organisation's (ILO) indicators in our direct operations," the company said.
Top Glove said it "understands" concerns about forced labor and "seeks to resolve any ongoing areas of concern immediately."
"The company continues to take extensive remedial actions to further improve our practices and enhance our internal control measures with regard to our labor management. We are committed to be the best company that we can, ensuring high quality welfare, health, safe working conditions, and living accommodation for our work force," the company said in its statement.
This rule follows a previous order issued in July by the U.S. agency that forced labor indicators exist at Top Glove, including "debt bondage, excessive overtime, abusive working and living conditions, and retention of identity documents."