The world’s largest asset manager Blackrock has called for the removal of the board of directors at Malaysian firm Top Glove Corp, the world’s largest maker of medical grade gloves, accusing it of failing egregiously in protecting its workers from Covid-19.
The comments come after Top Glove saw an extensive coronavirus outbreak among its workers late last year. More than 5,000 foreign workers were infected and one died in what became Malaysia’s biggest cluster.
Reuters reported last month that Top Glove fired a whistleblower who raised concern about the firm’s lack of Covid-19 mitigation efforts. Workers have also told Reuters that they lived in crowded dormitories.
BlackRock cited workers’ accounts of working and living conditions, the firing of the whistleblower and the virus cluster at Top Glove in its criticism of the board. It also voted against re-electing six board members at Top Glove’s annual general meeting on Wednesday.
“We view the board’s ineffectiveness in Covid-19 mitigation and inadequate oversight of worker health and safety issues as especially egregious with potentially serious implications for its reputation as a supplier of such equipment to hospitals around the world,” BlackRock said in a statement late on Wednesday.
Top Glove did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company has acknowledged that much more needs to be done to raise the standard of employee welfare and has promised to rectify shortcomings quickly.
The fund, which owns 0.84 per cent of Top Glove shares, declined to comment on worker safety concerns.
The board members were re-elected despite the objections.