SPECIAL PODCAST EPISODE – Malaysia’s rubber industry takes on forced labour.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the global demand for rubber gloves soared. The Malaysian rubber industry ramped up production while facing severe labour shortages. Reports of forced labour in the industry were rife and the United States seized and held the goods of seven companies.

Malaysian glove manufacturing enterprises took drastic action. Among other things, they adopted a zero-recruitment fee approach, where workers do not pay for their recruitment. Companies spent millions of US$ reimbursing migrant workers’ recruitment fees, which is a rare example of coordinated and business-led remediation.

Now, just a few years down the line, the Malaysian rubber industry has made impressive progress on its journey to end forced labour. Six of the seven companies that had their goods held are now once again exporting to the United States.

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Hosted by ILO GBNFL consultant Mariska van der Linden, the podcast episode features interviews with three business experts involved with the ILO’s and European Union’s Supply chains for a sustainable future of work project: Decent work in the rubber glove supply chain, which has been active in Malaysia since 2021.


The national business association

Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan
Executive Director
The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF)

The MEF is a leading national business association
with more than 5,000 members and an active ILO GBNFL member.

The Government of Malaysia

Mohd Fauzi Mohd Ghazali
Senior Director of Sustainability
The Malaysian Rubber Council (MRC)

The MRC is a Malaysian government agency
with over 500 company members that promotes rubber products in world markets.

The rubber glove manufacturer

Dr. Ng Thian Hong
Group Chief Strategy Officer
Harps Global/Central Medicare

Malaysian company Central Medicare produces gloves for medical purposes.
It is a subsidiary of HARPS Global Pte Ltd, which also acquired the
Sempermed group, another glove producer, in September 2023.

Free tools and resources for businesses

We asked each speaker what the most useful tools and resources are for businesses taking on forced labour in the rubber sector and beyond. We have compiled their answers into the list below.

ILO and ILO GBNFL tools and resources

Other useful Tools and resources

relevant laws and policies

Useful organizations and people

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