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Top Glove faces ESG reckoning on forced-labor allegations

Shareholders call for action following US import ban and COVID-19 outbreak

An employee inspects newly made gloves at a Top Glove factory in Malaysia. One migrant worker described the company's production lines as "humid" and "uncomfortable."   © Reuters

SINGAPORE -- Mired by allegations of forced labor and shoddy work conditions, Malaysia's Top Glove faces mounting pressure to address shortcomings on environmental, social and governance issues.

The largest maker of rubber gloves worldwide benefited from a surge in demand sparked by the coronavirus. For the six months through February, net profit soared 22 times on the year to 5.22 billion ringgit ($1.27 billion) while sales rose 315% to 10.12 billion ringgit. But as vaccinations reduce infections in some countries, the company is grappling with the challenge of satisfying stakeholders in a post-pandemic world.

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