Glove Maker Wrp Asia Being Closely Monitored Says Hr Minister




Human Resources Minister M Kula Segaran today said the ministry is closely monitoring developments surrounding glove maker WRP Asia's temporary suspension of its operations"We are aware that the company have gone into liquidation
"We are also aware of how the workers are affected," Kula (above) said during a press conference after a "meet the customers" session at his ministry this morning
Peninsula Malaysia Labour Department director-general Mohd Jeffrey Joakim revealed that his officers are on site at WRP Asia's factory in Bandar Salak Tinggi, Sepang, to monitor payment of outstanding wages to over 1,000 affected workers

"We are there to ensure that wages are really paid today by the liquidators
"We are also monitoring other developments... with respect to subsidiary companies of WRP as well," he said, adding that the department has a meeting scheduled later today with interim liquidators appointed by WRP Asia
Jeffry said among matters to be taken into consideration include the company's reportedly dire financial state
Malaysiakini reported yesterday that hundreds of WRP Asia employees, believed to be mostly from Nepal and Bangladesh, had gathered to demand answers from the interim liquidators over their unpaid salaries and employment status
This follow's WRP Asia's move to temporarily suspend its production line, three months after the US Customs and Border Protection agency announced it has banned imports from the company on suspicion of using forced labour
The company proceeded to appoint interim liquidators and on Thursday an emergency shareholders injection of RM3.25 million was channelled to enable the beleaguered company to pay its workers
Sources, however, claimed the funds could not be used to pay the affected migrant workers, who were allegedly under the payroll of WRP Asia's sister companies
Commenting further, Kula said he had repeatedly urged glove makers to implement a self-regulated independent audit of its supply chain to avoid losses due to US-led trade sanctions
He also said this was in line with a new government requirement to take effect from Jan 1, 2021, that all industry players applying for foreign workers must first submit an independent social compliance audit report to the Human Resources Ministry
"I met with the (glove) industries in late November or early December after the cabinet ordered me to
"I told them we cannot wait until Jan 1, 2021, 'You better have it now'," he said, citing as an example recent sanctions imposed by the US against the import of products from Thailand made with alleged elements of forced labour
"The problem is also this. It's not just America
"Once America starts, then Europe, and other countries will follow. We don't want to be caught," stressed Kula who noted that not all companies were open to the idea of appointing external auditors as any failure to comply with set standards would be easily identified
He added an independent audit report would also assist the ministry's ongoing monitoring and enforcement efforts, as there are only 340 labour officers nationwide
"You see like this WRP case, we are not talking about one or two workers but thousands of workers," said Kula, stressing that actions will still be taken against companies found to break the relevant laws
In January last year, nearly 2,000 Nepali workers from WRP Asia held a three-day strike over months of unpaid wages
The Labour Department at the time found that it withheld the salaries of its workers, had not paid overtime, made unfair pay cuts and had imposed wrongful working hours during breaks and public holidays. - Mkini

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