Malaysia’s COVID-hit Top Glove says will not fire whistleblowers

Company at centre of Malaysia’s biggest COVID-19 outbreak fired worker who raised concerns about overcrowding.

Top Glove became the site of Malaysia's biggest virus cluster this month after more than 5,000 workers were infected [File: Lim Huey Teng/Reuters]

Malaysia’s Top Glove Corp Bhd, site of the country’s biggest virus outbreak, said on Wednesday that whistleblowers will no longer face termination after it fired a worker who highlighted overcrowding at its factories.

The world’s biggest maker of medical gloves also said it has established helplines to handle worker complaints.

The Reuters news agency reported last week that 27-year-old Nepali worker Yubaraj Khadka was sacked after raising concerns about the lack of social distancing at the factories.

Khadka took two photos in May of fellow employees crowding into a Top Glove factory, which he shared with a workers’ rights activist.

A worker inspects gloves inside the Top Glove factory in Setia Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia [File: Fazry Ismail/EPA]

“If this incident happens today, this termination will not happen because we have engaged consultants and they have guided us on what is the right thing to do,” Managing Director Lee Kim Meow said in a radio interview.

The company has established three helplines for aggrieved workers, one internal and two overseen by a consultant and an audit firm, Lee told local radio station BFM 89.9. He did not name the external firms operating the helplines.

Ground zero for virus

Lee said Khadka did not give the company feedback on the working conditions, but it has since improved its processes.

“We actually spoke to him and he admitted his intention was to pass the photo to someone so that basically that someone will use it to discredit Top Glove,” he said.

Top Glove became the site of Malaysia’s biggest virus cluster this month after more than 5,000 workers were infected, while two other glove manufacturers have also reported outbreaks.

The manufacturer reported the first death of a worker from COVID-19 last week.

“From this episode, it taught us many lessons. We are humbled by the fact that there are still a lot of areas for improvement. Needless to say, we will do more,” Lee said.

Source: Reuters