Chinese MSFT Supplier Under Fire for Worker Conditions

A Chinese factory that provides computer parts and Xbox 360 controllers to Microsoft, and other U.S. companies, has seen the conditions of its workers scrutinized in a scathing report issued by The National Labor Committee (NLC).

The NLC report focused on the KYE Factory in Dongguan City, Guangdong and offered a laundry list of complaints. Among them, workers earn an average of 65 cents an hour (52 cents per hour after deducting for food), workers average 68 hours of work per week, and that workers are prohibited from “talking, listening to music or using the bathroom” during working hours.

Additionally, the factory was said to have a preference for hiring 18 to 25 year old women, as “they are easier to discipline and control,” and also hires “work-study students,” or 16 and 17 year olds who work mandatory 15-hour shifts six or seven days per week.  Workers also share lodging in “primitive” dorm rooms that house up to 14 people.

The NLC report is illustrated by pictures of workers asleep on assembly lines during their break time.

Another snapshot of working conditions offered by the NLC report:

Workers who make a mistake are humiliated in two ways.  They can be taken off the production line and ordered to pick up trash, sweep the factory floor and clean the bathrooms.  This happens every day, and it is done during working hours to humiliate the teenager in front of his or her friends and co-workers.

Other companies that source products from the KYE Factory include Hewlett Packard, Best Buy, Samsung, Foxconn, Acer, Wi/IFC/Logitech and Asus-Rd. While the factory does seem to focus on producing mice and webcams, a record of Microsoft importing Xbox 360 controllers (PDF) from the factory was attached to the NLC report.

Microsoft, for its part, said in a statement, “We regret that the NLC reported a one-sided story without offering us a chance to explain.” However, the Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft is sending a team of independent auditors to the facility in order to conduct a “complete and thorough investigation.”

Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Manufacturing and Operations, Brian Tobey also stated that worker pay was in line with labor standard for the area.

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