Microsoft “Employs Child Slaves to Make Xboxes”


A report condemning Microsoft for using Chinese suppliers who employ children in sweatshop conditions to make its hardware products has recently surfaced.

The factory itself manufactures goods for a variety of clients, with Microsoft said to be their largest customer. Amongst other things, they reportedly make controllers for the Xbox 360 and many of Microsoft’s hardware products.

The extremely lengthy report, which it should be noted displays strong union sympathies and is published by a leftist group with decidedly unrealistic expectations of what to expect from working in a developing country, summarises facts about the workers at Microsoft’s 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.
  • 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 hours.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Pictures smuggled out from the factory over the years demonstrate working conditions:


Other objections raised are clearly grasping at straws however – the report whines that workers “cannot use their cell phones whilst working,” “have to seek permission to leave the assembly line,” “must trim their fingernails so as not to impede production,” “are searched when they leave the factory,” “are publicly scolded by foremen,” etc.

Just whether the author actually has any idea what is really entailed in factory work, whether in the developed or developing world, is rather questionable in light of such spurious objections.

Of course, although this case specifically singles out Microsoft, such labour conditions form the basis of China’s manufacturing success and most companies outsourcing manufacturing to China can be expected to be employing workers under similar conditions at some stage in their production process.

Ethical quandaries such as whether it is proper for consumers to support such sweatshops in their desire for cheap goods, or indeed whether it is proper to deny poor Chinese the chance at lifting themselves out of poverty by satisfying the developed world’s need for cheap labour, are all uncertain subjective issues, but what is certain is that Microsoft has something of a PR disaster on its hands with this.

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    14:32 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    News flash all three console manufactures do this shit they can't resist China's dirt cheap labor.
    China's labor laws have no teeth because they are not enforced.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:15 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    PS3 fanboys are funny. The interface and Home are so shitty. RROD is the only ammunition you have.

    I own both consoles because I like good games.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:21 07/01/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    I original xbox, xbox 360, Wii, ps3 and ps2. all other games are virtual.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:46 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    back in my day we worked 40hours a day in coal mine and all 23 of us lived in a hole in the ground and we never complained

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:12 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Why single out microsoft? and as if Apple's products are not made in china eh? come on.... what about walmart? how do you know if your keyboards or mice are not made in china by some lolis?

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:40 18/02/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Speaking as an owner of a Microsoft PC that I had purchased 4 months ago, it's because everyone claims that Microsoft makes the best computers when in fact they're just boxes of errors that were obviously made in China.

    Avatar of motaku96
    Comment by motaku96
    13:11 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Betcha the guy that wrote the report used things manufactured by these workers.

    Anyway, damn, 90hours a week. That's rough. I'm already worn from my work hours which is just a fraction of that time.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:19 07/01/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    110 hours a week for the win!!!!

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:29 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well you have to take into account that currently China is at about the same economical and social situation as America in the twenties. I mean fourties years ago the country was still in the boondocks. What'da expect? China is doing what America did, expect in a half of the time.

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:29 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    FUCK! What a shame this is.

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:52 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Putting the fanboyism aside, there isn't a company who finds such things...lucrative. Companies who want to stay afloat basically must go to third world countries and offer their amazing employment. (And what amazing lawyers these companies have.)

    I could write a really informative, get-you-thinking, type of comment but for what? To raise your awareness (and/or rage, whichever) and have you bitch? All these comments and concerns mean absolutely shit until you get up and do something.

    And don't give me the there's-not-much we can do crap. That's what you've been trained to think.

    May I recommend "The Corporation" if you're still fond of your chair? Goody, you get two parts:

    Avatar of Kelvin
    Comment by Kelvin
    20:15 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I remind myself about this every time I sees a 'Made in China' label.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:59 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    is this why xbox 360 controllers droped to 39 bucks?

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:46 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    what the hell? The little shits are sleeping on the job, using cell phones while hiding under tables? I'd whip them little bastards. and damn they aren't wearing gloves?! I don't want to buy shit knowing that little dirty chink kids have had their filthy hands all over it. They wipe their asses with their hands over there. And the living areas look cleaner than what most of the brats probably live in at home... should call themselves lucky. I would crush them

    Avatar of Ghostchase
    Comment by Ghostchase
    17:09 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    ...and there is a Sony factory next door that does the same.

    Comment by Anonymous
    Comment by Anonymous
    04:22 18/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    and no one gives a fuck

    Avatar of WarWeeny
    Comment by WarWeeny
    18:36 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    i have seen this picture before but it was not by microsoft...i think o.o

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:52 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    'Sup guys. Same goes for everybody clothes that is made in Chine. It's extremely usual with this kind of stuff over there.

    Avatar of TC-man
    Comment by TC-man
    17:41 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Read the damn article again where it says:

    A Strange Thing Happened
    When the authoritarian government in China
    proposed minor labor rights improvements for China's workers...
    Microsoft and other U.S. companies fought to block them!

    In 2007, the Government of China proposed several minor reforms to China's labor contract law:

    * All workers to have the right to a signed contract;

    * Probationary periods to be limited to one to six months, and temporary workers to be given permanent status after one year;

    * Severance to be paid to workers whose contracts are not renewed;

    * Workers to be given 30 days notice of layoffs, which are to be carried out on the basis of seniority;

    * Workers to have the right to discuss the contract with management, regarding workplace and health and safety issues.

    The new contract law continues to outlaw the workers' right to form an independent trade union, popularly elect union leaders, or strike.

    One would have thought that Microsoft would have enthusiastically supported these very limited improvements as a first step toward government recognition of internationally recognized worker rights standards.

    In fact, it was quite the opposite. Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and other U.S. companies remained silent as the American Chamber of Commerce in China-to which they belong-threatened the totalitarian government of China that the new contract law would hurt China's workers, negatively impact on China's investment environment and lead to mass layoffs.

    "We believe it might have negative effects on China's investment environment" and may "reduce employment opportunities for PRC [People's Republic of China] workers."

    With other words, Microsoft & Co are blackmailing China if China wants minor labor rights improvements for China's workers then they will stops investing in China, i.e. go to other countries with cheap labor.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:16 18/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Good eye there. There's a very fine economic balance between China and the US right now, and despite the massive debt owed by the US government, China relies on their investments in order to maintain stability and wouldn't do anything to jeopardize that.

    Anyone who has studied Business Ethics would know that Microsoft is completely unethical in this instance, and saying shit like "well, every other company does it" is committing to the fallacy of appealing to popularity. Just because everyone does a bad thing doesn't suddenly make it good.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:23 07/01/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    And refusing to do it and going bankrupt would make them look just as bad. Business ethics =/= actual business. business ethics = inactive intellectual masturbation.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:34 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    God.. This is awful.. 15 hours/day..
    China is a fucked up country

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:13 07/01/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    I've worked that long before. 110 hours a week for 5 weeks.

    Comment by Anonymous
    Avatar of vault2049
    Comment by vault2049
    Comment by Anonymous
    00:31 18/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Prefer XBOX360

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:47 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "Companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, Foxconn, Acer, Logitech and Asus also outsource production to KYE Systems." Source - Seattlepi via Slashdot
    ( and

    Should I really be surprised here? KYE systems is clearly to blame for abusing their employees. It's a PR nightmare for Microsoft and any other company that outsources to KYE, but the companies that awarded the contracts are not really to blame.

    Let's say for example that I worked for IBM on the Backup Operations Support team for external customers. Would any of the external companies that contract IBM for their backups be responsible if I was mistreated by IBM? Of course not.

    Also, from what I can tell reading those articles, it appears to be pure speculation that KYE manufactures XBOX controllers. Artefact my dear, do you have a reliable source from a larger news agency?

    Avatar of El Chaos
    Comment by El Chaos
    01:36 18/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well, it depends on whether they're conscious of the mistreatment you're dealt by IBM.

    But even then, it's certainly hard to blame the external customers themselves. It's kinda like finding criminal factions into the US government that operate on other countries through PMCs.

    Avatar of Artefact
    Comment by Artefact

    Kotaku Japan and Gizmodo made that claim.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:42 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)


    Very shocking news...
    They shouldn't make kids work like that

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:50 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)


    Comment by Anonymous
    Comment by Anonymous
    10:00 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    The wage may suck, but everything else seems pretty good. They even get nap-time. After the great work they did in making my mice and controllers, they deserve it.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:07 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I'm glad this isn't me :)
    Well, if this makes Microsoft products cheaper who cares?

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:50 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Hell! Nuke everybody!! Turn the earth to glass, true equality.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:53 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Hmm... According to the news I saw, a bunch of big name companies award contracts to these guys, from Samsung to Best Buy. Also, it appears that the xbox controller thing was speculation. I don't see any specific mention of xbox controllers in any of the reputable news sources.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:50 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    You ass holes wouldn't last a day in one of these factories. I can understand no cell phones, but not being able to go to the bathroom for 14 hours! Thats insane, I really feel sorry for the Chinese kids that have to build this junk for fat Americans.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:46 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)


    i must say alot of asian haters here in sankaku..., well i'm asian so i'm offended ?

    hahahaha not really, as per my experiences most asian haters are just rednecks (or buggers if in australia lol), kids (hey kid, your mum's telling you that asians are evil ?) and poor sad westerners (flipping burgers at mac'd to earn some cash for your pregent wife? anybody? lol!) ?

    i mean they are posting as anons for their hate remarks, don't even dared to create a proper account to insult asians...? Scared to get all the attention as a racist i guess? heck i have a proper account but i choose to post as anon to see whether i'll get brush off or flamed since theres no proper account attached to the comment.

    Lets use born with a silver spoon as a basis and society ranks thus:

    1.Platinum Spoon
    2.Gold Spoon
    3.Silver Spoon
    4.Bronze Spoon
    5.Stainless Steel Spoon
    6.Iron Spoon
    7.Copper Spoon
    8.Concrete Spoon
    9.Bamboo Spoon
    10.Wooden Spoon
    11.Plastic Spoon
    12.Rotten wooden Spoon
    14.Piece of ragged cloth

    Ok, its silly and laughable but heck lol it makes some sort of a good picture of society in some ways.

    Basically most asian haters belong to the lower half of their society (concrete spoon - ragged cloth category). Because it can almost be summarized that they have never known any other culture than theirs and the same applies to their parents (OMG! airplanes~~~ i've never been on one! i'm so scared it might crash~~).

    i said MOST, so if you considered yourselves from the upper part of the society but continue to behave like those from the lower half... hehehe i guess it suits you in the sense that theres where you will end up later in your life after your parents "expire or ended their support to you" and begins your part as a member of society. sad... really....

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:05 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Ahhhh! I love the smell of modern slavery in the morning! That's why if I ever get married I'll buy the epitome of modern slavery... a blood-diamond ring and tell my wife-to-be that every sparkle from it is a life snuffed in a remote village in Africa! I'm sure she'll cry... of hapiness and say yes =D


    Avatar of xTomoya
    Comment by xTomoya
    12:25 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Obviously, a lot of you just don't seem to even give a flying fuck about this matter, or anything similar to this. You should all be grateful that you're not the one working in there. I don't think anyone in the right mind would work in a place like that, under those hellish conditions, unless they absolutely needed to.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:19 07/01/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Poor child, has never known the desperate sting of poverty. They absolutely need to, and want to trust me.

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:25 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I wish I could make X-boxes when I was a student. All I got was a lousy job at a summer camp.

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:15 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    no wonder you retards keep getting RROD

    14:38 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    This why the quality of most consumer electronics has gone down the shitter.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:35 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Stop buying xbox then. less xbox sales, less worker, less child slavery. As simple as that.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:14 07/01/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    And then the children starve on the streets.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:57 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    money, greed, slavery, child labour, video games... all represented in a box, a "X" box.
    Now you know what mean that x.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:15 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    lol @ slaves.

    These aren't slaves, they're workers. If they choose not to work there, they can, and someone else will take their place.

    These factories exist all over the world in developing countries, and from what I can see, it doesn't even look that bad. Actually, it looks pretty decent.

    Avatar of ChocolateCrinkles
    Comment by ChocolateCrinkles
    11:32 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    This is nothing. The Chinese peasant class has been serving under corrupt and terrible warlords for some 3000 years now, they're used to it. Besides, when in China do as the Chinese do. Unless of course, you want to see the prices of gaming peripherals rise?

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:29 17/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    seems to be fake in my opinion

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