An NGO denounces the "sweatshops" of Microsoft in China

Original publication National Labor Committee, translationCounter Info

The National Labor Committee denounces the working conditions of the Chinese factory KYE which produces computer peripherals for Microsoft and several American brands. Students recruited by the factory work more than 80 hours per week for 37 euro cents an hour (0,5 dollar). The rates are such (130 mice per hour) that exhausted employees sometimes sleep at their workstation during breaks. The workers are accommodated in more than basic collective dormitories and do not have showers.

The National Labor Committee has published a detailed study on working conditions in the Chinese factory KYE which subcontracts the production of Microsoft and other American companies.

During this three-year survey carried out at the KYE factory located in Dongguan, unprecedented photos, smuggled into the factory, show exhausted teens, asleep at their post on their assembly line during breaks.

KYE recruits hundreds of senior students 16 and 17 years, who work on shifts of 15 hours, six to seven days a week making webcams, mouse and other peripherals. Some of these workers appear to be only elderly 14 or 15 years. A typical vacation takes place from 7 hours 45 at 22 hours 55. Most students work for three months, but some stay longer.

Besides the students, KYE prefers to hire women aged 18 at 25 years, that are considered easier to discipline and control.

Employees say that before the recession, they were passing 97 hours per week in the factory, dont 80 hours and a half at work. In 2009, workers passed 83 hours per week at the factory, dont 68 working hours.

Workers are paid 65 cents of dollars an hour, which amounts to a net salary of 52 cents an hour, after deductions for food supplied by the factory.

Employees must show up very early in the morning to perform military-style exercises that are not paid. Management controls every second of their life.

The pace of work is grueling : workers must meet their mandatory goal of 2000 Microsoft mice produced by vacation. During summer, factory temperatures reach 30 ° C and workers are drenched in sweat.

Security guards sexually harass young women. Employees are not allowed to speak, listening to music or going to the bathroom during working hours. Freedom of movement is restricted and workers cannot leave the factory premises during regulated hours.

Employees must share rough and dirty dormitories among fourteen, and sleep on narrow bunk beds. As a "shower" they have to make do with hot water in a small plastic bucket and a bath sponge. Employees say the food is awful.

KYE management says working conditions at the factory are excellent, and that they are in full compliance with labor laws in China. But young women describe the factory as a prison, where all who can flee within six months. It is virtually impossible to find an employee who has been in the factory for more than a year or two. As usual, the codes of conduct adopted by Microsoft, HP and the Electronics Industry Council have no effect.

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