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UK: Govt. is facing legal action over PPE linked to forced labour & modern slavery

"Government facing threat of legal action over PPE links to modern slavery", 2 April 2021

The government is facing legal action over links between personal protective equipment and alleged modern slavery.

A case is mounting against the government’s failure to address labour abuses in the NHS supply chain, The Independent understands, despite repeated promises made by the Home Office and Department of Health and Social Care to crack down.

Wilson Solicitors, a London firm, has written to the DHSC raising concerns over how gloves made by Malaysian manufacturers with a history of exploiting workers have been provided to frontline healthcare staff.

Throughout the pandemic, NHS doctors and nurses have used gloves produced by Brightway, Supermax and Top Glove. All three are accused of “dire human rights abuses” by Wilson Solicitors. The companies deny the claims and insist they comply with Malaysian labour regulations...

...Wilson Solicitors is representing several current and former migrant workers employed by these companies and other Malaysian glove manufacturers.

These clients have experienced and witnessed widespread labour abuses at their respective factories in Malaysia, the lawyers claim.

They say this includes excessive working hours without adequate breaks and no days off, inadequate and unsafe accommodation facilities, illegal retention of passports, exorbitant recruitment fees leading to debt bondage and poor Covid-19 safety measures to protect workers...

...Wilson Solicitors has given the DHSC until 14 April to respond. The Independent understands the firm will file a suit in the High Court on behalf of the Malaysian migrant workers if they are not met with an adequate response from the government...