Bill Gates’ Microsoft exploits teenage workers

This video says about itself:

19 April 2010 — Microsoft has announced it is investigating reports that a factory manufacturing its products in China is forcing teenagers to work 15 hour shifts in sweatshop conditions.

A investigation by the US based National Labour Committee found that workers at the KYE factory, a producer of webcams and mice for Microsoft, were being ill-treated.

The report claims that the workers were forced to sleep 14 to a room and wash in a bucket.

They then had to work long shifts in high temperatures and under strict conditions, all for very little pay.

Microsoft says that while they were not previously aware of any problems at the factory they would take ‘appropriate action’ if necessary.

From British daily The Morning Star:

Microsoft bosses told ‘child slavery’ must end

Monday 19 April 2010

by Tom Mellen

Investigators found 385 underage workers toiling at the factory

Beijing has given bosses at two Chinese factories contracted by computing giant Microsoft a week to rectify their “illegal practices” after they were found guilty of trampling young workers’ rights.

The state-owned China Daily quoted Dongguan Human Resources Bureau (DHRB) officials on Monday as saying that KYE Systems management had presided over illegal and inhuman working conditions at its Kunying and Xieying facilities.

The two sites employ 4,000 workers manufacturing webcams, computer mice and video game controllers for the world’s biggest software company and others including Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, Acer, Logitech and Asus.

The DHRB launched an investigation into conditions at the factories after the New York-based non-profit National Labour Committee (NLC) published a report last week accusing Microsoft of super-exploiting teenagers as “slave labour.”

The NLC report alleged that workers aged 16 and 17 worked 15 hour shifts six and seven days a week for just 37p an hour.

And it charged that youngsters on the production line were not allowed to talk or use the toilet.

Chinese law prohibits employers from employing people under the age of 16.

Bosses are only allowed to employ “underage workers” – workers aged 16 to 18 – if they register the practice with the local labour administration authority.

DHRB official Xie Yanfang said that investigators did not find any evidence proving the two factories had employed any child labourer younger than 16.

But Ms Xie said the DHRB probe had established that managers had indulged in “some illegal labour practices.”

Investigators found that 385 underage workers from secondary schools at Sichuan and Guizhou provinces toiled at the facilities – 326 of whom had not been registered with the local labour administration.

Managers had also failed to give employees a copy of their labour contract and forced them to work excessive overtime, she said, noting that workers on the production line were forced to work an average of 280 hours in March.

Ms Xie declared that KYE bosses “have been ordered to rectify these illegal practices within a week, or they will be fined or face other administrative penalties in accordance with the law.

“We’ll closely follow the factories’ rectification to safeguard the lawful rights of workers,” she vowed.

In how many other countries do Microsoft and other big corporations make similar profits by exploiting teenage (or even younger) workers? What will authorities there do about it?

Bill Gates of Microsoft is often considered to be the richest man in the world. How will people like pop star Bono, promoting Bill Gates as an honest kind-hearted anti-poverty fighter, react to this scandal?

21 thoughts on “Bill Gates’ Microsoft exploits teenage workers

  1. Glover in cuffs

    US: Actor Danny Glover was cuffed before being taken away by police at the Maryland headquarters of French company Sodexo.

    The Lethal Weapon star and 11 others were detained at a protest over poor working conditions at the food service company.

    Mr Glover has been increasingly active in trade union politics recently, speaking out in support of Hugo Boss employees on strike against a plant closure in Brooklyn, Ohio, last month.


  2. Arrests follow employee abuse

    Business reaped millions by selling fake medical device

    13 May, 18:54

    (ANSA) – Florence, May 13 – Police have arrested five people accused of abusing employees and tricking customers into paying thousands of euros for cheap vacuum cleaners sold as anti-allergen equipment, the Italian media reported Tuesday. The four men and one woman have been charged with conspiracy to commit tax fraud and business fraud, while 11 other individuals are still under investigation.

    Three properties worth 1.5 million euros have also been seized in connection with the investigation. All had links to Italcarone, a Tuscan company that allegedly imported 350-euro vacuum cleaners from the United States that were then sold to Italian customers for around ten times that price. The appliances were branded as “electro-medical anti-allergen equipment”, which customers were told would help treat respiratory disease and even cure asthma.

    In the five years since it was created, the company is estimated to have sold over a million appliances, generating annual under-the-counter revenue of around five million euros. Although the charges are fraud related, it was chiefly the business’s appalling treatment of staff that helped bring the scam to light, investigators said. Unskilled staff in desperate need of money were recruited through newspaper advertisements and then trained either as telephone operators or as door-to-door salesmen. WORKERS WERE WHIPPED WHEN THEY FAILED TO MEET TARGETS.

    Those working in the call centre were set impossible targets, for which they were promised non-existent trips to exotic locations.

    They were expected to work up to 14 hours a day, with half an hour for lunch and timed bathroom breaks, and subjected to continual psychological and physical abuse, ex-employees claimed. They said the company routinely used public humiliation in front of co-workers to keep employees in line. Some were even whipped on their legs when they failed to meet targets.

    Workers were ‘boosted’ by daily blasts of the national anthem and by motivational talks.

    The door-to-door salesmen were encouraged to attempt their first demonstration to a relative or close friend – who would often buy the appliance out of support. However, the salesmen were then fired shortly afterwards without being paid, on the basis they had failed to meet the impossible quotas set.

    “The employees were subjected to gruelling and frequently humiliating work conditions,” investigators commented.


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