KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – The United States lifted a 17-month import ban on products from Malaysian rubber glove maker Smart Glove, saying the company has addressed exploitative labour practices.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in November 2021 sanctioned imports from Smart Glove and its group of companies over the alleged use of forced labour at its production facilities.
Smart Glove, which makes gloves used in the medical and food industries, had then said it was opposed to forced labour and committed to the well-being of its workers.
In a statement on Wednesday, the CBP said Smart Glove has taken various remediation measures, including repaying recruitment fees borne by migrant workers. Activists say the onerous fees result in debt bondage.
Smart Glove also improved workers’ living conditions, and implemented new worker-centered policies and procedures, the CBP said.
Smart Glove in a statement said the lifting of the import ban “allows us to again fully meet the needs of our valued customers in the United States”.
The company added it has implemented a “zero cost” recruitment policy, upgraded worker housing and created an anonymous reporting channel for workers to engage with management on any issues.
Malaysian companies, including some of the world’s major suppliers of palm oil and medical gloves, have come under increased scrutiny over suspected abuse of foreign workers, a significant part of the country’s manufacturing workforce.
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