Glove makers show they care about foreign workers’ welfare, enhance code of conduct

13 Nov 2019 / 21:02 H.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Rubber Gloves Manufacturers Association (Margma) passed three resolutions at extraordinary general meeting on Nov 9 to adopt and enhance its code of conduct with regard to the treatment of migrant workers in the industry.

At a media briefing, Margma president Denis Low Jau Foo said the code of conduct is to help the association’s members adhere to good social compliance practice as guided by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex) standards.

“The resolutions that were passed were that the members adopt the Code of Conduct on Social Compliance, the members are to join Sedex and participate in the SMETA audit programme for social compliance within 12 months, and for our members to adopt the Zero Cost Policy for the recruitment of foreign workers with immediate effect,” he said.

SMETA, or the Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit, is an ethical audit format which reports on Sedex’s four pillars of labour, health, safety and environment in reflecting good business ethics.

“I would say there has been a tremendous improvement seen in compliance with the code. In view of the continuing emphasis on social compliance, on human rights, on protecting the environment, Margma has taken up the challenge to do better in this area.

“The big players have already improved and complied, and the process of auditing is ongoing. We are confident that the glove industry will move forward strongly and we want to be a good role for the industry,” said Margma past president Datuk Lee KM.

Low estimates that about 80% of Margma members are part of Sedex, but eventually all members will have to comply with the code of conduct. Margma has 58 ordinary members and 165 associate members.

On social compliance with regard to engaging a migrant worker, Low said some of its members are already practising the Zero Cost Policy, in which they ensure that a migrant worker will be free of debt when the person comes to work in Malaysia.

“There have been calls for us to take this policy on retrospectively for workers who are already in the country, but we will not be doing so, as that is not fair and it would be very difficult for us to quantify that cost,” said Low.

He also said glove makers will no longer be keeping their workers’ passports, but instead will provide secure lockers and individual keys for the workers to keep their passports and other personal documentation.

As for overtime work, Low said this will be capped in accordance with ILO standards.

“If there is overtime in excess, it will have to be on a voluntary basis and there will be one day of rest in the week for workers as well.”

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