Great Britain

Top Glove: ‘World’s biggest’ PPE manufacturer forced to shut factories as thousands of workers test positive for Covid

Production has been halted in more than half of the factories operated by the world’s largest latex gloves maker, Top Glove, after nearly 2,500 of its workers tested positive for Covid-19.

The company said that since 18 November they have “temporarily stopped production in 16 facilities in Meru” region while the remaining 12 facilities have been “operating at much reduced capacities.”

Top Glove, which claims to be the world’s largest producer of gloves for personal protective equipment (PPE), claimed that following “guidance” from Malaysia’s health ministry they have “completed full screening of about 5,700 workers” at their hostels and would soon proceed with testing of the remaining workers and staff at factories.

On Monday, it announced that it will “work closely and cooperate fully with the relevant authorities to implement the temporary stoppage by stages” of their manufacturing facilities in the Meru region of Malaysia.  

The Malaysian government’s health chief Noor Hisham Abdullah said that all those “who tested positive have been hospitalised and their close contacts have been quarantined to avoid infecting other workers,” reported Reuters.

The company said that the safety and well-being of its employees and local community was their “utmost priority”, while they worked towards “containing the situation” and to “flatten the Covid-19 curve”.

“We will continue to adhere to Covid-19 preventive SOPs (standard operating procedures) on a stringent basis. Disinfection exercises at our premises and accommodation are also conducted regularly, with all the necessary precautionary measures strictly in place,” said Top Glove in a statement.  

An increase in demand for PPE like gloves due to the pandemic has resulted in record profits for Top Glove, which claims to have a capacity of 90 billion glove pieces per year.

The glove maker has 47 factories and of that 41 are in Malaysia. but many of its workers are from Nepal and they live in crowded dormitory complexes.

The Malaysian authorities have reported a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in areas where Top Glove factories and dormitories are located.  

But Top Glove has also been under scrutiny in 2020 as it faced allegations of forced labour and high recruitment fees imposed on migrant workers. In July, the United States had banned the import of gloves from two of its subsidiaries over such allegations. Last month, the company had announced that it has “resolved the labour-related issues.”

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