From: AFP April 15, 2010 3:56PM
Workers at a Microsoft factory in China are exhausted during 16-hour shifts, a report claims.
MICROSOFT said it had opened an investigation following a report of harsh working conditions at a factory in China that makes products for the US software giant.
The Pittsburgh-based National Labor Committee, in a report released Tuesday, denounced conditions at a KYE Systems factory in the city of Dongguan in Guangdong province.
The NLC, a private group with a stated mission to "help defend the human rights of workers in the global economy," said KYE recruits hundreds of "work study students" aged 16 and 17 years old who work 15-hour shifts, six and seven days a week.
It showed photos released over the past three years purporting to have been smuggled out of the factory, showing "exhausted teenaged workers, toiling and slumping asleep on their assembly line during break time".
It said that in 2007 and 2008, before the recession, "workers were at the factory 97 hours a week while working 80-and-a-half hours".
"In 2009, workers report being at the factory 83 hours a week, while working 68 hours," the NLC said.
It said workers were paid 65c an hour, "which falls to a take-home wage of 52c after deductions for factory food."
"Workers are prohibited from talking, listening to music or using the bathroom during working hours," the NLC report said, adding that "as punishment, workers who make mistakes are made to clean the bathrooms.
They are required to turn out 2000 Microsoft mice each shift.
"We are like prisoners," one worker told NLC.
"It seems like we live only to work. We do not work to live. We do not live a life, only work."
The report claimed workers had no rights, and the factory violated "every single labor law in China".
"Microsoft's and other companies' codes of conduct have zero impact," it said.
Microsoft said it took the claims "seriously" and vowed to "take appropriate remedial measures in regard to any findings of vendor misconduct".
"Microsoft is committed to the fair treatment and safety of workers employed by our vendors," the Redmond, Washington-based company said.
"Microsoft has invested heavily in a vendor accountability program and robust independent third-party auditing program to ensure conformance to the Microsoft Vendor Code of Conduct."
The NLC report said the factory makes computer mice for Microsoft, as well as products for other companies, including Hewlett-Packard, Best Buy, Samsung, Foxconn, Acer, Logitech and Asus.
This is the main reason Australian manufacturing is seen as inefficient, we can not compete with slave labour!