Jan 4, 2021
Top Glove, one of the biggest manufacturers of rubber gloves, is doing booming business these days by supplying PPE to the world. The Malaysian company is also the site of Malaysia’s largest coronavirus outbreak.
Over 5,700 out of 11,215 workers at one of its complexes outside Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, tested positive for the coronavirus. The explanation is simple: a lack of social distancing, long shifts, and cramped dormitory housing in worker hostels mean an environment ripe for the virus to spread. Thousands of Top Glove workers migrate to Malaysia from countries in South Asia to work fourteen hour shifts for $300 a month. Many take out a loan to get to the country, and end up working in near-slave conditions to work off that loan.
Top Glove’s response to the outbreak has been to try to cover it up. One worker was fired for taking pictures showing the conditions in the factory. A 29-year-old security guard from Nepal died from Covid. Top Glove ignored his family’s pleas to return his body.
Top Glove’s profits are way up compared to last year—they cleared nearly 600 million in their most recent quarter. The owners make millions—by risking the skins of their workers.