Glove maker Brightway Holdings Bhd has denied that hundreds of its workers are living in metal shipping containers in conditions described by a minister as modern slavery.
The company confirmed that a raid had taken place yesterday at its subsidiary LA Glove, but it denied its workers were living in containers and said it had fewer workers than the number given by the Labour Department.
Human Resources Minister M Saravanan said living conditions at the factory in Kajang were the worst he had ever seen. “This looks like modern slavery,” he told Astro Awani.
The Selangor Health Department issued a seven-day closure notice on the factory for failing to comply with Covid-19 preventive measures.
A multi-agency raid today found 781 workers living behind the factory in two blocks of shipping containers stacked three stories high, which officials said was a violation of a law on minimum housing standards.
Reuters quoted Brightway human resources manager Alice Michael as saying that the workers were “living in a three-storey building close to the factory but outside its boundary”, as the company did not want employees to linger around and be exposed to Covid-19.
“There are only 450 workers, many of whom have hostels further away, but were brought into this building temporarily,” she said.
A Labour Department official told FMT that the factory was in violation of the Street, Drainage and Building Act for erecting a building (the containers) without the permission from the Kajang Municipal Council. The company had not applied for approval to convert the containers into accommodation, he said.
Brightway said it has been instructed to meet with the human resources ministry tomorrow.
The company said the factory closure was due to workers not wearing face masks correctly and social distancing requirements not being followed. It said it would take steps to rectify the situation in order to revoke the closure order. – FMT