I always enjoy reading the positive articles. This story from The Diplomat on “Growing Transparency in Malaysia’s Glove Industry” gives me hope and encouragement that we are making some solid steps to the betterment of human rights. Plus, it allows me to chalk up one positive side-effect of this horrible pandemic. Forced labor in Malaysia’s manufacturing industries have been documented for over a decade and now the Malaysian government together with the manufacturers have collectively implemented a host of remediations to finally address the issues. You can see the trickle-down effect after the pressure imposed on the big glove firms from import bans as the smaller companies follow afoot and now are more publicly open to sharing their challenges and what steps they will take to correct it. This has the potential to transform the entire foreign worker and recruitment agency process to truly achieve the elusive "Employer Pays Principle" and Freedom of Movement. Malaysia's recent ratification of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention 1930 (No 29) is the cherry on top. Yes, I know there is still a long way to go to fully stamp out forced labor, but I will still happily take the wins where I see them driving renewed hope and excitement for human rights in the supply chain.
Much progress has happened since then. All four major glove makers, and many more, reimbursed all or some workers all or some of the exorbitant recruitment fees they paid to local agents. Workers at some plants had their passports returned, dorm conditions were sometimes improved, and so on.