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6 Jan 2022

Peter Bengtsen, The Guardian

UK: Govt. faces legal action for approving PPE supplier accused of using forced labour

"UK faces legal action for approving firm accused of using forced labour as PPE supplier" 6 January 2022

The UK government is facing legal action over its decision to keep using a Malaysian company accused of using forced labour as a supplier of personal protective equipment (PPE) to the NHS.

Lawyers at the London-based law firm Wilson Solicitors have filed for a judicial review of the government’s decision to name the UK subsidiary of the Malaysian company Supermax as one of the approved suppliers in a new £6bn contract for disposable gloves for NHS workers. […]

After the US ban, the UK government launched its own investigation into the allegations of modern slavery and forced labour concerning Supermax. But in December 2021 Supermax was named as one of the approved suppliers able to pitch for contracts under the NHS’s new “framework agreement” for the purchase of surgical gloves. […]

Supermax did not respond to the Guardian’s request for comment but said in a statement that it had implemented a new foreign worker policy in November 2021, which would “speed up the process” of meeting the International Labour Organization’s labour standards.

It also said it had raised its minimum wage, was repaying recruitment fees to some former workers, and was working on an equal pay structure to eliminate discriminatory practices [...]