Microsoft factory “makes 14-year-olds work in silence”

Microsoft has launched an investigation into its manufacturing plants after a damning report accused it of using child labour.

China’s KYE Systems Corp factory, where products are made for Microsoft and several other US tech firms, is accused of employing teenagers as young as 14 for 65 cents an hour, and forcing them to work 15-hour shifts without breaks and in silence, by the US National Labour Committee.

The NLC report says the factory uses “military-style discipline”, with employees forbidden from using the bathroom during working hours. It also claims female workers are regularly sexually harassed by security guards and employees are forced to “complete their mandatory goal of 2,000 Microsoft mice per shift.”

We are like prisoners. It seems like we live only to work. We do not work to live.

“We are like prisoners,” one worker told the NLC. “It seems like we live only to work. We do not work to live. We do not live a life, only work.”

Other companies who have products made at KYE include Samsung, Best Buy and Acer, and the NLC says they are as much to blame as the factory.

“The young workers never think or talk about the foreign companies and put all the blame on the factory,” the report reads. “No one has told them how wealthy and powerful Microsoft and the other companies really are. Since the young Chinese workers would never dream of making demands against Microsoft or the other corporations, this permits the corporations to tout their codes of conduct while knowing full well that they will never be implemented. It’s all just part of the game.”

In a statement sent to PC Pro, Microsoft said it was “aware of the NLC report, and we have commenced an investigation”.

“We take these claims seriously, and we will 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. 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.”

In a post on the company’s blog, Microsoft’s vice president of the manufacturing and operations of entertainment and devices added: “As a result of this report, we have a team of independent auditors en route to the facility to conduct a complete and thorough investigation. If we find that the factory is not adhering to our standards, we will take appropriate action.”

Click here to read the full NLC report.

Microsoft is not the first tech firm to fall foul of manufacturers using child labour this year. In February, Apple found that workers as young as 15 were being employed in three of its factories.

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