The Canadian government announced on Friday it is investigating allegations of forced labour in Malaysia’s palm oil and glove manufacturing industries.
Employment and Social Development Canada told Reuters in an email that its Labour Programme was “actively researching a number of forced labour allegations in different countries and sectors, including palm oil and glove manufacturing in Malaysia.”
The email declined to provide further details or name specific companies being probed.
Malaysia’s human resources ministry meanwhile did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the move by Canada.
Malaysian firms, which include some of the world’s biggest palm oil and rubber glove producers, have faced increasing scrutiny in recent years over reports of labour abuses.
In the last year, the United States has banned imports from three Malaysian firms on suspicions of forced labour.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has said it found forced labour indicators such as excessive hours, abusive living and working conditions, debt bondage, intimidation, physical and sexual violence, and retention of identity documents at these companies.
The sanctioned companies include Top Glove, the world’s biggest latex glove maker, and the two of the world’s top palm oil producers, Sime Darby Plantation and FGV Holdings.
Top Glove said in April it has resolved all indicators of forced labour found at its factories.
Sime Darby has said it is committed to combating forced labour and has robust policies to protect workers’ rights.
FGV has said it has taken concrete steps in recent years to demonstrate commitment to respect human rights and uphold labour standards. (Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation)