Glovemaker Brightway Holdings Faces Multiple Probes Over Modern Day Slavery
In a raid last week, 781 workers were found to be living in two blocks of shipping containers stacked three storeys high. (Labour Department pic)PETALING JAYA: The Labour Department says it will open 30 investigation papers over glove manufacturer Brightway Holdings’ failure to comply with various housing standards under a newly-enforced law.
The human resources ministry said the decision to open the investigation papers came after raids on two of the company’s subsidiaries over the past week, with minister M Saravanan describing the squalid conditions for foreign workers as “modern day slavery”.
If convicted, the company could face a RM50,000 fine for each offence, or a total fine of RM1.5 million. All of the investigation papers are at the final stage of preparation before submission to the department’s prosecutors, the human resources ministry said in a statement today.
Located in Kajang, La Glove (M) Sdn Bhd was raided on Monday, with the Labour Department finding 781 workers living in two blocks of shipping containers stacked three storeys high.
On Thursday, the department conducted another multi-agency operation on another of Brightway’s subsidiaries, Biopro (M) Sdn Bhd in Port Klang, where they found workers staying in two warehouses.
Like the containers in La Glove, the Biopro warehouses were illegally converted into accommodations for foreign workers.
“The Labour Department is in the process of completing the investigation papers and a total of 22 charges will be opened against Brightway Holdings And Biopro (which) covers various offences under the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act (Act 446) and regulations thereunder,” the ministry said.
“Eight charges will be opened against La Glove. A total of 30 charges will be opened on Brightway Holdings and its two subsidiaries.”
Thursday’s raid on Biopro, which was covered by the media, was accompanied by another raid on Brightway Holdings, which is also in Port Klang. The ministry did not provide a breakdown as to how many investigation papers were opened into Biopro and Brightway Holdings.
Brightway Holdings serves as the corporate and administrative centre of Brightway Group, with La Glove and Biopro its main production facilities, according to Brightway Group’s website.
Saravanan has since revealed that the operation at Biopro was compromised after details of the raid were leaked, which led to workers being moved to another location.
Brightway Holdings also has a factory in Bestari Jaya, Selangor, and Chemor, Perak.
The group has a total of 52 lines and is capable of producing 340 million gloves per month. Incorporated in 1988, Brightway Holdings produces natural and synthetic gloves for a global market requiring medical, industrial and cleanroom applications.
Among the group’s biggest importers include American personal care giant Kimberly-Clark and Australian safety and personal protection firm Ansell, both of which have told FMT they are re-evaluating their relationship with the firm in light of the latest developments.
Kimberly-Clark produces household brands such as Kleenex, Scott and Huggies while among Ansell’s biggest buyers include the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK.
Apart from failing to obtain an accommodation certificate, the human resources ministry said Brightway also failed to provide facilities that met the minimum standard specifications under the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act.
Under the act, employers must provide a mattress of at least four inches, a pillow, a blanket and a locker, all of which the company failed to do.
“The human resources ministry will not compromise on any breaches or non-compliance under Act 446 and the regulations under it,” the ministry said.
“The ministry urges all employers and providers of centralised accommodation who have not applied for an accommodation certificate to do so immediately to avoid any legal action.”
Earlier this month, the Labour Department said 19 investigation papers have been opened on another glove manufacturer, Top Glove, for failing to comply with Act 446 after operations carried out in Johor, Perak, Kedah, Kelantan and Negeri Sembilan. - FMT
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