The COVID pandemic turned the world upside down. It is shocking to see how our lives and everything around us changed so drastically in just a few months. We are still struggling to adapt to the new world.

Something that has remained the same before and after COVID is the issue of human trafficking and forced labor. In fact, human trafficking and forced labor are getting worse as there are more desperate people struggling to feed their families. This is compounded by the fact that many businesses are laying people off, and SMEs are going out of business. Companies have tighter budgets making it even more tempting to hire people at a lower cost, no matter what the social consequences are.

A recent example of this is Top Glove (Malaysia), one of the largest glove manufacturers in the world. They hired foreign workers at no cost through recruitment agencies in order to increase their production to meet the global demand of gloves.

Recruitment agencies search for people hoping to work abroad. Then, they charge a high recruitment fee to workers and deduct this from the workers’ (future) salaries. Employers get cheap labor and little to no cost for recruitment. The new employees are locked into their contracts due to the recruitment fee they must pay back.

Once the story got out, Top Glove fired these workers in order to clear their name. Now, the fired workers are in debt; they still owe the recruitment agency, have no job to pay back the recruitment fee, and have no money to feed their families. Top Glove is back in business, claiming they have no forced labor issues and are now requesting to remove trade sanctions. The mess they created is leaving a trail of hundreds of family who will suffer for years to come.

Aster International / Astra Centar provides recruitment services for migrant workers to prevent them from becoming victims of human trafficking and forced labor. The PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) industry is a lure with its surged demand. Please work with us in creating awareness of this horrible practice. It is worse than slavery in the sense that they lure people to voluntarily sign up for bonded situations with the promise of a good life. Please support us so that we can prevent desperate people from becoming victims.