Shares of Top Glove sank to a three-month low yesterday following news that the world’s biggest glove maker had fired a whistle-blower before the Covid-19 outbreak at its factories.
The mainboard-listed counter tumbled as much as 5.7 per cent to $2.15 at around 9.57am on the Singapore bourse. The last time the counter closed below this level was on Sept 10 at $2.13.
The stock recovered slightly to close at $2.19 yesterday, or 3.95 per cent lower with 5.37 million shares changing hands.
A Top Glove employee in Malaysia had taken two photos in May of his co-workers crowding into one of the company’s factories, but was fired in September for sharing them, Reuters reported on Sunday.
The photos showed dozens of workers lined up less than 1m apart to have their temperatures checked before starting their night shift.
Although the company required everyone to wear masks and gloves, the whistle-blower and five other workers told Reuters that social distancing was not enforced or followed outside the factory.
Almost three months later, Top Glove’s complex of factories and dormitories in Klang has become Malaysia’s largest Covid-19 cluster with more than 5,000 infections, the authorities said on Dec 1.
The company confirmed last Wednesday that 5,147 workers at its Klang factories had tested positive for the coronavirus. That is double the 2,453 positive cases among Top Glove employees announced late last month.
The Malaysian government said then that it would temporarily close in stages 28 of Top Glove’s manufacturing facilities in Klang to screen and quarantine workers.
This comes as a Nepali security guard working for the company is believed to have died of Covid-19.
Mr Yam Narayan Chaudhary died last Saturday, after he was admitted to hospital on Nov 21, reported Malaysia’s The Star yesterday.
The government has also opened 19 investigation papers into six Top Glove subsidiaries over offences involving workers’ dormitories.
The company is being investigated for violations of the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act.
If found guilty, Top Glove may have to fork out a RM50,000 ($16,480) fine for each offence.
On Dec 9, during a press conference to discuss its first-quarter earnings, Top Glove said it was planning to reduce its dependence on foreign workers and employ more locals.
The company said then that in FY2021, it aims to recruit 9,000 employees comprising 7,000 new or experienced hires – of whom 4,500 will be locals – as well as 2,000 interns and trainees.
The company’s net profit surged to RM2.38 billion for its first quarter ended last month, about 21 times that of RM111.4 million in the year-ago period.
THE BUSINESS TIMES