Decent work in global supply chains

Supply chains for a sustainable future of work: Decent work in the rubber glove supply chain

The project is a joint initiative of the International Labour Organization and European Union (EU) that sets out to advance decent work in five selected global supply chains for a fair, resilient, and sustainable COVID-19 crisis recovery. Rubber glove manufacturing in Malaysia is one of them.

A worker working in a rubber glove factory, Malaysia. © Shutterstock


The Supply chains for a sustainable future of work (SCSFW) project will promote decent work globally by focusing on supply chains connecting specific sectors in three countries (Colombia, Malaysia, and Namibia). This supply chain approach serves as an entry point for advancing full and productive employment and decent work. The project builds on the results, good practices and lessons learned during the implementation of the EU-funded project Sustainable Supply Chains to Build Forward Better.

In the rubber glove supply chain in Malaysia, the project focuses on employment and productivity, social dialogue, occupational safety and health, forced labour, and labour inspection and strategic compliance.

Malaysia exports rubber products to more than 190 countries and holds a share of 62 per cent of the global market for rubber gloves. Demand for surgical and other types of rubber gloves has increased significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Migrant workers make up a significant proportion of the industry workforce yet remain vulnerable to unfair recruitment practices, confiscation of passports, withholding of wages, forced labour, excessive working hours, poor occupational safety and health practices, and inadequate living conditions.

Manufacturers need to find new strategies to meet soaring orders, while at the same time ensuring the promotion and protection of fair recruitment, labour rights and workplace safety throughout the industry.

Rubber gloves production line. © Shutterstock


  1. To promote decent work in the rubber glove supply chain as key to the social and economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis – building back better.
  2. To engage stakeholders and promote social dialogue all along the supply chain to keep decent work at the forefront and explore possibilities for a “new normal” during and after COVID-19 recovery – stakeholder engagement.
  3. To support Malaysia Government, employers, workers and other stakeholders' actions to make decent work a defining framework of the post-COVID era – stakeholders' actions.

Next steps

The ILO will use the good practices and lessons learned from previous and ongoing ILO supply chains projects to further equip enterprises, with a better understanding of the decent work opportunities and challenges, material issues and risks, within the rubber glove supply chain in Malaysia.