The Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (MARGMA) on Tuesday appealed to the government to allow foreign workers to enter the country to meet growing demand this and next year, citing a critical shortage of 25,000 workers since 2019.
Additional workers are urgently needed and firms are prepared to fulfil terms and requirements for the hiring process, including Covid-19 - related procedures, MARGMA President Supramaniam Shanmugam said in a statement.
"We have the production capacity, but not enough workers to utilise the production capacity to its optimum," he said, adding that a programme to recruit locally had a take-up rate far below its 10,000 worker target.
Manufacturing in Malaysia, like the palm oil sector, relies heavily on migrant labour who have not been able to enter the country since the pandemic started.
Palm oil companies since last year have urged the government to let foreign workers return.
The government this month announced a special approval to bring in 32,000 foreign workers for the plantation sector.
MARGMA also said Malaysia's rubber glove producers are facing "intense competition" from China, hence they need to keep capacity up to fulfil orders.
Malaysia supplies around two-thirds of the world's rubber gloves consumption.
Due to automation, the industry has been able to maintain a workforce size of about 72,000 employees since 2013 while the number of gloves produced and exported has increased by 10-15% per year, the association said.