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19 Okt 2020

Peter Bengsten, Weekendavisen

Denmark: Rubber gloves imported from Malaysia amid concerns over forced labour & US import ban

Note: This is an English summary translation of the Danish original provided by the author. McKesson, Henry Schein, Medline and Owens & Minor mentioned previously commented on these concerns in this article.

"Rubber gloves and bondage", 3 Sep 2020

Investigation reveals that Malaysian manufacturers Top Glove and Hartalega supply disposable gloves to all five Danish Regional Authorities, who procure gloves and other supplies for public hospitals in Denmark.

US imports from Top Glove’s Malaysian subsidiaries were banned by the US Customs and Border Protection in July due to forced labour concerns. The presence of forced labour indicators have previously been reported at both Top Glove and Hartalega.

Top Glove and Hartalega have been supplying procurers in almost all five Danish Regional Authorities for years. For example, Region Zealand, Region South Denmark and the North Denmark Region have used gloves from Top Glove and Hartalega for five to six years. The Central Denmark Region has used Hartalega gloves for a decade.

All five regions said that their suppliers, when signing contracts, stated that the suppliers themselves and their own suppliers are not using forced labour. This is in clear contradiction to media investigations in recent years and now the view of the US Government.

The procurement agency for the Danish municipalities and the state (In Danish: Statens og Kommunernes Indkøbsservice, abbreviated to SKI) has sourced from the Malaysian glove manufacturer WRP Asia Pacific before, during and after the US import ban. SKI said that all of its suppliers had described how they abide to SKI’s CSR-requirements, including the prohibition of forced labour in supply chains.

The piece also touches upon developments around mandatory supply chain due diligence legislation in Europe, and the need for such a law in Denmark.