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Glove Maker Faces Charges After Worker Outbreak

More than 3,400 of the company's employees tested positive for COVID-19.

It’s been a year of scary and shocking news, but a recent report out of Malaysia added another layer of concern over the supply chain issues impacting the medical community — and their ability to care for coronavirus patients.

Top Glove, the world’s largest producer of rubber gloves, announced recently that a COVID-19 outbreak among its own staff forced the manufacturer into temporary shutdowns.

After several thousand positive cases were reported, the government cracked down on the operation and ordered 28 of the company’s 41 Malaysia factories to shut down until they got a handle on the outbreak. Other plants were running well below capacity so workers could be screened and quarantined.

The ensuing fallout led to Top Glove announcing that its gloves would likely face delays and price increases despite a very critical need for PPE globally. 

And while the shutdowns also sent Top Glove’s sales targets plummeting, the problems for the company don’t appear to end there. Malaysia now says it will file charges against the organization, alleging “poor worker accommodation.”

According to Reuters, the country launched 19 probes examining living conditions for workers. Labor officials said their investigation revealed some accommodations were cramped, poorly ventilated and lacked rest and kitchen areas. Malaysian officials said they were concerned that the accommodations themselves would become “the source of spreading diseases.”

Top Glove said it is currently working on sourcing more accommodations for its workers in light of these allegations, and hopes to have a solution in place by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, more than 3,400 Malaysian Top Glove workers have tested positive for COVID-19, representing more than 16% of the company’s total workforce in Malaysia.

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