Owing to a severe labour shortage, Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association has cut its output target for this year by 3.6% to 188 billion pieces of gloves, reports Bloomberg. Though global demand for rubber gloves has been growing, producers are unable to meet the requirement because of the lack of labour, the report said. The output of rubber gloves in the first half of the year contracted by 4.5 percent.

According to reports, Malaysia’s efforts to reduce the economy’s reliance on cheap, foreign labour has backfired. The tremors are also felt in palm plantations, construction, restaurants and barbershops.

Some companies in Malaysia have faced allegations of exploiting workers in modern slavery conditions. Earlier this month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection blocked imports of disposable rubber gloves from a Malaysian firm on suspicion that they were manufactured using forced labour, Bloomberg report said.

The government has been imposing stricter labour requirements and has cracked down on foreign workers without permits. Excess work hours have also been cut, with foreign workers now limited to two hours of overtime compared with three to four hours earlier. The social compliance audits will become mandatory from 2021 and are designed to address issues affecting foreign workers and meet social and ethical demands from international buyers, the report pointed out.

For the rubber glove industry, at least 25,000 foreign workers are needed to replace those who have left and manage expanded capacities, said the Bloomberg report.