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Microsoft factories found guilty of illegal practices

Tech Eye  |  April 19, 2010  |  Share  | 

While software giant Microsoft  is still to investigate illegal labour practices at the plants of two of its Chinese partners, it seems that authorities have been quick to condemn the plants

Both plants, named and shamed last week, have been found guilty by the Dongguan human resources bureau of violating labour laws and have been given a week to rectify their "illegal practices", state-run China Daily quoted authorities as saying. .

The pair were accused of illegal and inhuman working conditions and if they do not change their work practices to comply with the law, they will face a fine.

There are claims that 16 and 17-year-olds work 15-hour shifts for about 50 cents an hour.

They are prohibited from talking or using the bathroom during work hours, and sleep crammed in 14-person dorm rooms.

Taiwan-based KYE assembles and packages hardware products for Microsoft and other companies. Last week it denied that it ever did anything wrong and had done great things for its employees.

The chinese authories said they could find no evidence of child labour at the plant but the companies do have some illegal labor practices, an official from the bureau said.

Chinese law allows the employment of "underage workers" - workers aged 16 to 18 - only if the employers register the practice with the local labour administration authority, she said.

It seems that the two factories have employed 385 underage workers from secondary schools at Sichuan and Guizhou provinces. More than 326 were unregistered.

Workers were forced to work over time and were never given a labour contract. They were forced to work an average of 280 hours in March, much more than the typical 160 hours per month worked by those with 40-hour weeks, the investigation revealed.

They did get paid for the work and overtime which is the minimum wage standard of the city, the investigation revealed.

It is still not clear if a Chinese investigation can find proof of labour abuses, why several similar Microsoft investigations could not.

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