The world’s largest manufacturer of rubber glosves, Malaysian company Top Glove Corporation Bhd, will pay restitution to its foreign workers for monies that workers had to fork out in unethical recruitment costs, reported the Los Angeles Times and Free Malaysia Today.

Payout from Top Glove will likely total US$40 million in a schedule of payments seen by TWC2. The world’s largest manufacturer of rubber gloves had its exports to the USA banned by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, citing “reasonable evidence of forced labor in the manufacturing process.”

The International Laboor Organisation (ILO) considers recruitment fees demanded from workers to be a form of forced labour.

Top Glove’s migrant workers from Bangladesh are to receive about US$4,800 each and those from Nepal about US$1,500 each. There are also workers from Indonsia, Myanmar and Vietnam. The company is reported to have more than 10,000 foreign workers.

Top Glove’s group revenue in 2019 was 4.8 billion ringgit (US$1.15 billion) and its profit after tax was 367 million ringgit (US$88 million), according to its 2019 Annual Report. Thus, the US$40 million payout would represent half of last year’s profit.

It is not clear from news reports how the reparation amounts were determined. However, the usual practice is to interview all workers to arrive at an average and then adjust it for interest and inflation. Since it is in the nature of unethical fees that documentation will only rarely be available, interviewers will have to take workers’ word for it.

Unfortunately, as documented by TWC2 here on this website, unethical and exorbitant recruitment fees are commonly seen in Singapore too, and TWC2 urges companies here to clean up their act before they get bad press and suffer bans over the same issue. The Ministry of Manpower should also be a lot more pro-active in stamping out this practice.