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A Bangladeshi man recently diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer is seeking compensation, claiming the illness is due to exposure to chemicals while working at Top Glove Corporation Bhd’s manufacturing plant.
The leading glove manufacturer, however, said a medical practitioner attending to him said the illness was “food related”, and that Top Glove has already provided the worker with a RM15,000 “goodwill” payment.
Khurshid Miah who returned to Dhaka on July 22 after working for Top Glove since September 15, 2017, told Bangladeshi news website Business Insider Bangladesh that he believes his illness is caused by exposure to chemicals used to process the rubber.
“I had to work with chemicals to process rubber. I had been suffering from acute stomach pain for several months and had conveyed my concern to them. A company physician gave me some heartburn medicines after visiting me,” he was quoted as saying.
He added that he sought medical help when the pain did not go away but was unable to get admitted to a hospital, allegedly due to Covid-19 health protocols.
Due to his critical condition, doctors in Malaysia had advised him to undergo surgery, but Khurshid said he decided to fly back home upon his family’s wishes.
“Now I am appealing to my company to provide me compensation on health and safety grounds so that I can continue my treatment in Bangladesh,” he said.
His son, Reshudal Alam, also told the Bangladeshi website that doctors there told the family his father’s chance of survival is slim because the cancer has affected his liver.
Top Glove: Worker received due care, illness unlinked to work
However, Top Glove director and financial controller Melissa Cheoh told labour rights activist Andy Hall that a medical practitioner in the Shah Alam Hospital who examined Khurshid said his illness is not linked to his work.
“Kindly be informed that any suspected cases of occupational disease or illness due to workplace exposure will be notified by the medical practitioner in pursuant to the requirements under the Malaysia regulation.
“For Mr Kurshid Miah (sic), the treating medical doctor did not establish his illness is due to his workplace or his work,” Cheoh said in the email dated Aug 1, sighted by Malaysiakini.
Hall had contacted Top Glove over Khurshid’s case to appeal for compensation, and had copied his correspondence to various parties, including foreign government agencies monitoring their suppliers for labour rights issues.
He also disputed Top Glove’s assertion that the illness was unlinked to conditions at the factory, citing a scientific paper on the link of gastric cancer and rubber exposure.
In an email on July 14, Hall told Cheoh and various other Top Glove managers that Khurshid had been ill for the past 30 days in the company’s hostel and had complained of chest pain at the company clinic three times.