April, 13 2010 |  Download PDF |  Share

China's Youth Meet Microsoft

KYE Factory in China Produces for Microsoft
And Other U.S. Companies

"We are like prisoners... We do not have a life, only work."

                                                                                    -Teenaged Microsoft Worker



by an anonymous Chinese labor rights activist and scholar

"The idea that ‘without sweatshops workers would starve to death' is a lie that corporate bosses use to cover their guilt."

China does not have unions in the real sense of the word.  Therefore, workers do not have enough power to bargain with private companies or state-owned enterprises to secure the wages they require to satisfy their basic needs.  Corporations and government have monopolized the right to distribute wealth as they see fit.  Workers can only sit and politely wait for corporate bosses and government bureaucrats to bestow them with the things they need.  Under this model, China's economic development has failed to benefit all the people in China.  The riches flow to the corporate heads, shareholders and the ruling party, which has resulted in a shocking daily increase in the gap between the rich and poor, creating enormous and destructive social divisions.

A world without unions will never have fair distribution of wealth.  The idea that "without sweatshops, workers will starve to death" is a lie that corporations use to cover their guilt.  Workers will only receive fairness, justice and happiness when there is a worldwide anti-sweatshop movement, and where workers in every country have the right to freely organize a union and to bargain collectively with corporations.

If there is even one corner of the world where the right to freely organize and collectively bargain is not guaranteed, then capital, like a serial criminal, will search out that place.  Justice can only be won when corporations are held legally accountable to respect the checks and balances of workers rights.




China's Youth Meet Microsoft
KYE Factory in China Produces for Microsoft and other U.S. Companies

"We are like prisoners... We do not have a life. Only work."
Teenaged Microsoft Worker

  • Over the past three years, unprecedented photographs of exhausted teenaged workers, toiling and slumping asleep on their assembly line during break time, have been smuggled out of the KYE factory.
  • KYE recruits hundreds-even 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, dozens of the work study students were reported to be just 14 and 15 years old.  A typical shift is from 7:45 a.m. to 10:55 p.m.
  • Along with the work study students-most of whom stay at the factory three months, though some remain six months or longer-KYE prefers to hire women 18 to 25 years of age, since they are easier to discipline and control.
  • In 2007 and 2008, before the worldwide recession, workers were at the factory 97 hours a week while working 80 ½ hours.  In 2009, workers report being at the factory 83 hours a week, while working 68
  • Workers are paid 65 cents an hour, which falls to a take-home wage of 52 cents after deductions for factory food.
  •  Workers are prohibited from talking, listening to music or using the bathroom during working hours.  As punishment, workers who make mistakes are made to clean the bathrooms.
  • Security guards sexually harass the young women.
  • Fourteen workers share each primitive dorm room, sleeping on narrow double-level bunk beds.  To "shower," workers fetch hot water in a small plastic bucket to take a sponge bath.  Workers describe factory food as awful.
  •  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.  During the long summer months when factory temperatures routinely reach 86 degrees, workers are drenched in sweat.
  •  There is no freedom of movement and workers can only leave the factory compound during regulated hours.
  • The workers have no rights, as every single labor law in China is violated.  Microsoft's and other companies' codes of conduct have zero impact. 


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