Malaysian gloves makers seek to address US, UK human rights concerns
10 Mar 2023
MARGMA meets with representatives of national agencies to discuss efforts to prevent forced labour
Petaling Jaya – The Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (MARGMA) has held meetings with US and UK representatives to address concerns over human trafficking and forced labour issues in its industry.
Two recent ‘dialogue sessions’ involved discussions with officials from a number of US government agencies and separately with a UK envoy to Malaysia, MARGMA reported 7 March.
The aim, said MARGMA, was “to build strong working partnerships [towards] achieving our goals in staying ahead in compliance with international standards.”
The sessions were led by MARGMA president Dr. Supramaniam Shanmugam, VP Hue Kon Fah, immediate past president Denis Low and Chan Wone Fu the association’s CEO.
From the US were representatives of the Customs and Borders Protection (CBP), Department of Labor (DOL), International Labor Affairs (ILAB) and Immigration & Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations.
The CBP team, led by Anne Marie Highsmith, executive assistant commissioner of the Office of Trade, “emphasised their commitment to be strong partners” in this area, said MARGMA.
Highsmith, it added, had noted efforts by Malaysian industry players and government to reform labour laws, via the country’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Discussions with the US representatives also covered issues around technical assistance and collaborations in educating businesses, migrant workers, society and unions.
The association also highlighted its efforts to highlight the need for social compliance “to buyers and to set new benchmark for the rubber glove manufacturing fraternity globally.”
According to MAGMA, “it was concurred by all parties [at the meeting] that a level playing field is essential globally for all glove manufacturers.”
Also, “as discussed and agreed by US CBP, any unrealistic low selling prices, will be a tell-tale sign of cutting corners on ESG,” said the Malaysian industry body.
At a separate session with UK migration and modern slavery envoy Andrew Patrick, MARGMA explained how its members are working to ensure compliance with the new procurement framework of the UK National Health Service (NHS).
MARGMA said it has been working with the UK government to ensure that its members are "sensitised" to the new NHS requirements.
“I am pleased that Mr Andrew Patrick spoke to our members about the new measures and expectations to ensure that no forced labour practices taint the supply chain,” commented Dr. Supramaniam Shanmugam.
Pictured below at MARGMA meeting with US officials (from l to r): Jennifer Williams, program manager, DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking (The US Immigration & Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations), Thea Lee, deputy undersecretary, US Department of Labor, International Labor Affairs (ILAB), Anne Marie Highsmith, executive assistant commissioner, office of trade, US CBP, Dr. Supramaniam Shanmugam, MARGMA president, Denis Low, MARGMA immediate past president, Hue Kon Fah, MARGMA vice president.