Rubber workwear and medical glove manufacturer Ansell (ASX: ANN) is in the spotlight again following allegations one of its suppliers may use forced labour to make their gloves.
This week the United States Customs and Border Protection Department blocked imports of Ansell gloves made by supplier WRP Asia Pacific and urged Australia to follow suit.
Until WRP can prove it can prevent alleged forced labour at the company’s factories, WRP’s gloves cannot enter the US.
The ban was part of a crackdown on imports from five countries where factories are suspected of burdening migrants from Bangladesh and Nepal with crushing debt.
New Australian anti-slavery laws came into effect on January 1 that require large companies to report annually on risks of slavery in their supply chains and the actions they are taking to reduce risks.
According to a report in abc.net.au, Australia’s Border Force is not planing to ban imports of specific goods that may be produced using modern slavery.
This is not the first time Ansell has been urged by lawmakers to police its supply chain more closely.
A year ago @AuManufacturing reported that Ansell had imposed self-assessments and audits on its suppliers.
That followed controversy in the UK over allegations of forced labour, forced overtime, debt bondage, withheld wages and passport confiscation at suppliers Top Glove and WRP.
Ansell’s own factories are not implicated in either of these incidents.
According to Time.com the Malaysian rubber industry went into a tailspin following the latest ban.
The Malaysian Rubber Export Promotion Council said in a statement: “The industry has since last year worked on social compliance initiatives in order to continuously improve the welfare of the employees in the rubber glove industry.”
Ansell is listed in Australia and its top management are domiciled here, but the company manufacturers in low-cost environments including Malaysia.
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