YTY Responds to US Department of Homeland Security WRO

YTY was alerted on January 29, 2022, via a press release issued by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that a Withhold Release Order (WRO) had been issued against specific YTY Malaysian operating entities based on an assessment by the DHS’ Customs & Border Protection (CBP) division that “reasonably indicates” the use of forced labor in YTY’s manufacturing operations.

Vikram Hora, YTY’s Chief Executive Officer, notes “Since early 2019, YTY has made demonstrable progress in a focused and systematic manner in respect of our social compliance policies, procedures, and achievements, particularly as it relates to how we engage with, and treat, employees from foreign countries (EFC’s), also known as “foreign workers” or “migrant workers,” given that they are at greater systemic risk for abuse or exploitation. Given the substantial and continuous progress YTY has made over the past three years, we are both surprised and disappointed with the enforcement action taken by the Department of Homeland Security, especially as this action was undertaken without any form of prior engagement with us.”

Harinder Kaur, YTY’s Head of Social Compliance & Corporate Governance, notes “In August 2021, we provided the CBP with a comprehensive progress report on our social compliance standing, inclusive of our scorecard in respect of ILO’s forced labor indicators, where we noted we were compliant with ten of the eleven indicators, and were targeting full compliance by end-2021.”

Harinder goes on to note “We then submitted a second, equally detailed update this month, where we confirmed that, based on YTY’s sustained focus in this area over the past five months, we had gained compliance with all eleven of the ILO forced labor indicators, thereby meeting the targets we had set forth earlier. Separately, over the past three years, we have had various of our Malaysian manufacturing operations audited against established social compliance audit frameworks, with excellent conclusions. Even today, we remain actively engaged with leading social compliance agencies to voluntarily submit ourselves to audits in sensitive areas of social compliance review, such as fee reimbursement.”

Harinder concludes by noting “At all points in our communication with the CBP, we have emphasized that we welcome engagement with them on any matters they wish to review more deeply, and that as part of this engagement we would be pleased to provide whatever supporting evidence they require. However, up until this DHS notice, we had not heard from the CBP on any specific area of concern, nor were we even made aware that an active investigation was underway on YTY.”

Vikram notes “Despite the position the CBP has taken, we will redouble our efforts to engage with them – and other relevant stakeholders – to not only demonstrate that our manufacturing operations are devoid of any and all forced labor practices, but to reaffirm ongoing social compliance advancements and our unwavering commitment to preserve the rights and liberties of all our employees.”

Vikram concludes by noting “As a large and trusted supplier of personal protective equipment (PPE) into the United States for decades, YTY apologizes to our US customers for this inconvenience, and will work with them to mitigate the impact of this disruption.”

For further information, please contact Ravi Ragunathan, Vice President, Human Resources.