MS responds to Chinese factory accusations

Microsoft has sent a team of independent auditors to the Chinese factory in the middle of a heated row following accusations of poor working conditions.

The National Labor Committee last week released a report documenting claims about working conditions faced by staff at China’s KYE Factory, where Microsoft produces tech equipment such as mice and webcams.

Claims included in the NLC’s report include:

* KYE recruits up to 1,000 "work study students" 16 and 17 years of age, who work 15-hour shifts, six and seven days a week

* In 2007 and 2008, before the worldwide recession, workers were at the factory 97 hours a week while working 80 hours

* Not only are the hours long, but the work pace is grueling as workers race frantically to complete their mandatory goal of 2,000 Microsoft mice per shift

Speaking in response to the report, Microsoft’s corporate VP of manufacturing and operations at the Entertainment & Devices division Brian Tobey stated:

As a company that sells a wide range of hardware and devices, we take very seriously our corporate responsibility to ensure that the manufacturing facilities and supply chain operations that we use comply with all relevant labour and safety requirements and ensure fair treatment of workers.

We were therefore very concerned when we saw a report by the National Labor Committee (NLC) alleging that conditions at a factory operated by KYE in Dongguan, China, were adversely impacting workers. 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.

We should note that as part of Microsoft’s ongoing supplier SEA program, an independent auditor has been inspecting the KYE factory annually.In addition, Microsoft personnel conduct quarterly on-site assessments, and receive weekly reports from KYE on key labor and safety criteria that we monitor as part of our supplier SEA program.

We will take all appropriate steps to ensure the fair treatment of the KYE workers.”

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