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Microsoft sending inspectors to Chinese contractor

Auditors are on their way to facility that makes mice and other hardware for Microsoft and is accused of requiring teenage workers to toil long hours in bad conditions.

Microsoft said on Thursday that it has dispatched a team of auditors to a facility in China that is accused of requiring its teenage employees to work long hours in poor conditions for take-home pay that amounts to just 50 cents an hour.

"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 labor and safety requirements and ensure fair treatment of workers," according to a blog post from Brian Tobey, corporate vice president of manufacturing and operations for Microsoft's entertainment and devices unit. "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."

The National Labor Committee used this photo at the top of its report alleging harsh working conditions at a China factory that makes Microsoft mice and other accessories. National Labor Committee

The software maker had said earlier this week that it had launched an investigation, following the report.

"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," Tobey said. "If we find that the factory is not adhering to our standards, we will take appropriate action."

Tobey said that an independent auditor inspects the KYE factory each year and Microsoft also does quarterly on-site assessments and gets weekly reports from the vendor with regards to labor and safety issues.

"Over the past two years, we have required documentation and verification of worker age, and no incidence of child labor has been detected," he said. "Worker overtime has been significantly reduced, and worker compensation is in line with the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition standards for the Dongguan area."

However, Tobey said the company is taking another look at the situation in light of the NLC report.

"Despite these earlier findings, we take the allegations raised this week quite seriously," he said. "Another comprehensive on-site audit of the facility will be conducted next week, with a specific goal of investigating the allegations raised in the NLC report. In addition, we will have monitors on site pending the results of the inspection. We will take all appropriate steps to ensure the fair treatment of the KYE workers."