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539 comments

Who cares? (2, Insightful)

kyrio (1091003) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921436)

Welcome to Earth.

Re:Who cares? (5, Insightful)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921724)

+5 insightful. Just read the friggin' article:

'I know I can choose not to work overtime, but if I don't work overtime then I am stuck with only 770 Chinese yuan (£72.77p) per month in basic wages,' the worker said.

'This is not nearly enough to support a family. My parents are farmers without jobs. They also do not have pensions.

'I also need to worry about getting married, which requires a lot of money. Therefore, I still push myself to continue working in spite of my exhaustion.

Regardless of the working conditions, these people are there because they have needs and desires the same as the rest of us. They work there because there is no other work available, or the work that is available is even worse. That's the state that the majority of the world is in, and it won't be changed by any number of idealistic fools opining about the immorality of large corporations.

Not Unusual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31921458)

Chinese nap after their lunch. Nothing to see here.

Re:Not Unusual (2, Insightful)

Starayo (989319) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921782)

Exactly. It's normal work culture in China. This is nothing but western spin trying to make Microsoft look like the devil.

I mean, I'm not fond of them either, but.... I was going to say they should stop at outright lies but this is journalism after all.

Wrong RTFA - there is inhumane treatment of worker (1, Informative)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921820)

No, it's not just a matter of napping after work. It is seriously inhumane treatment.

The mostly female workers, aged 18 to 25, work from 7.45am to 10.55pm, sometimes with 1,000 workers crammed into one 105ft by 105ft room.

They are not allowed to talk or listen to music, are forced to eat substandard meals from the factory cafeterias, have no bathroom breaks during their shifts and must clean the toilets as discipline, according to the NLC.

The workers also sleep on site, in factory dormitories, with 14 workers to a room. They must buy their own mattresses and bedding, or else sleep on 28in-wide plywood boards. They 'shower' with a sponge and a bucket.

And many of the workers, because they are young women, are regularly sexually harassed, the NLC claimed.

The organisation said that one worker was even fined for losing his finger while operating a hole punch press.

Re:Wrong RTFA - there is inhumane treatment of wor (2, Insightful)

Goaway (82658) | more than 3 years ago | (#31922024)

Well, the problem is that the FA is from the Daily Mail, which makes Fox look like respectable journalism.

It's the repost! (1, Funny)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921462)

The repost you don't want to read.

Re:It's the repost! (4, Informative)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921600)

Exactly. Nothing new here from previous post, except you get a bit of 'Daily Mail' sensationalism.
Appropriate, since people are now (unfavourably) comparing /. to the Daily Mail...
http://crashedpips.com/2010/03/slashdot-the-daily-mail-of-the-tech-world/ [crashedpips.com]

Better to read the NLC's original report, (which is actually even more damming, since it contains more detail):
http://www.nlcnet.org/reports?id=0034 [nlcnet.org] - April 13

In the interests of balance:
http://blogs.technet.com/microsoft_blog/archive/2010/04/15/working-to-ensure-the-fair-treatment-of-workers-in-our-manufacturing-and-supply-chain.aspx [technet.com]

Re:It's the repost! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31922032)

Appropriate, since people are now (unfavourably) comparing /. to the Daily Mail...

Well, to be fair, Slashdot's userbase hasn't been licking Obama's balls as thoroughly lately.

Re:It's the repost! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31921932)

It’s funny how you conveniently failed to mention that this practice wasn’t ONLY conducted by Microsoft, and that HP, Dell, Asus, and many other hardware manufacturers outsource to the same company, and that out of all those companies, only Microsoft is taking action to investigate the reports.

Is it really that different than programming? (0, Redundant)

xtal (49134) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921466)

When I was programming, 16+ hour days were common.. as was sleeping at a desk.

While I am certainly not proposing abuses of the same magnitude, it would be interesting to see inflation and real dollar adjusted comparisons.

I'm also quite certain Apple et. al are no better.

Re:Is it really that different than programming? (5, Insightful)

will.perdikakis (1074743) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921516)

I think the difference here is, while you were doing this:

1) You made 0.52USD in a fraction of an hour
2) You could have quit and found another programming job, most likely within a drivable distance from where you live.

Re:Is it really that different than programming? (2, Insightful)

xtal (49134) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921720)

What does $0.52/hr mean relative to cost of living? Maybe it's horrific abuse. Maybe it's reasonable. I certainly didn't have much money left after living in those days.

My point is before we all BBQ MS, all the facts are needed.

Re:Is it really that different than programming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31921888)

the internet is no place for facts!

Re:Is it really that different than programming? (5, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921964)

In Ohio, the minimum wage is $7.30. This means that someone working 40 hours/week would earn roughly $14,600 a year. Our GDP per capita is about $48,000, so someone earning minimum wage is getting about 30% of the average. In china, GDP per capita is $3,266. Someone earning 50 cents/hour, working 40 hours a week, earns $1,000 US a year. Hey, look at that, right about 30%. So, these factory workers are basically earning the equivalent minimum wage in china (*if* scaling based on GDP is appropriate). This is to say nothing about actual cost of living, or the actual working conditions, but dollar for dollar if we expect someone in the US to work for $7.30 an hour when the average is much higher, we should have no problem expecting someone in China to work for $.50 an hour considering what everyone else makes.

Re:Is it really that different than programming? (4, Informative)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921656)

When I was programming, 16+ hour days were common.. as was sleeping at a desk.

Hey, I was there too, long hours, a cot in the server room, impossible deadlines. Of course I also was getting shares of the company and I could easily have quit and had a normal job and I was not required to live in company housing, was supplied with free booze and other perks, and got to choose my own hours. This is something quite different and more akin to slave labor.

I'm also quite certain Apple et. al are no better.

Actually, there was a story about lesser abuses at one of Apple's suppliers earlier this year. The difference being, the abuses were discovered by Apple, while Apple was auditing the companies they do business with to make sure they don't pull this kind of crap. That company lost out financially because of breach of contract and is being regularly audited for compliance. (We'll see how well Apple follows through in a few years.)

This abuse was discovered by the press because as near as I can tell, while Microsoft claims to audit suppliers before doing business with them, they've never actually discovered any cases of abuse or fired or censured a supplier. So, while Apple is not perfect and MS may well be average, the evidence to date does indicate that Apple is better about this.

Yes, it certainly IS different (3, Insightful)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921754)

Did you have have sick days and vacation?

Health benefits for you and your family?

Regulations for workplace health and safety?

Did you have labour laws to protect you?

Were you allowed to sleep at home? Did you even read the article?

I don't know how old you are, but you have forgotten all the principles for which the citizens who lived before you fought and died. If you're young, you have MUCH to learn because your education has been a failure. If you are old, you have even given up thinking or given up compassion.

Re:Is it really that different than programming? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921800)

Common? perhaps, I did them about once a month. 6-7 days a week? no, I don't think so.

Re:Is it really that different than programming? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31921812)

In 1945, the minimum wage in the US was ... 40 cents an hour. The minimum wage in the US is currently at $7.25/hour (more in some states) but in terms of actual buying power, that's less than the $0.45/hour. That's inflation (caused by printing and borrowing money) and China doesn't have it.

You must've had "sucker" stamped on your forehead (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921856)

I've been a programmer all my career and I've never been idiot enough to work 16 hour days. The most I'll do is
10 then I'll call it quits. The more long hours you do the more long hours most bosses will expect of you. The old
phrase "start as you mean to continue" is very apt here.

human rights org propaganda (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31921468)

From TFA:
This [staged] photo and others like it were ["]smuggled out["] of...

FTFY

Srsly (0, Redundant)

ShadowDragoonFTW (1527831) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921474)

Srsly. I saw this on Overclock.net last week...

Re:Srsly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31922026)

And you're okay with that? My God! If I was in your place, I'm sure I would require some sort of therapy.

industrial revolution (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921480)

Don't forget this stuff has happened in every country that has been through an industrial revolution. Thankfully, China is going through theirs in 25 years, when it took us/Great Britain much longer.

But that doesn't change the fact that we should fight against this. Walmart could lead the way, considering the massive volume they require, to manufacturing shop reform.

Re:There's a problem with that (4, Insightful)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921550)

Wal-Mart profits too much from their form of slavery to ask for decency(even if it gets rid of those pesky labor unions in the US).

Re:There's a problem with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31922016)

Yeah, and are these "US made products" or Chinese made products? Also, are these only for US consumers or consumers worldwide? Am I supposed to feel guilty for being American and having Chinese slaves? Hell there are worse working conditions here, like for certain "religious" scam organizations.

Re:industrial revolution (3, Insightful)

49152 (690909) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921712)

At least here in northern Europe it got better when we formed labor unions and associated political parties, then we got new laws that protected the workers against the worst abuse. This is about a hundred years ago so not many people remembers it directly anymore, which is widely evident in political discussions today. Sure it can get to far the other way and we end up with ridiculous worker rights like full pension when your 50 and stuff like that. But profit seeking companies will not give their worker fair wages and decent working conditions unless they absolutely have to.

How is this gonna happen in China?

Correct me if I am wrong, but is it not still a one party state and "workers paradise"?

Say what? (-1, Flamebait)

djupedal (584558) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921488)

Those girls are simply on a break...seriously. They're not chained to an injection machine or forced to work without food and water. I dislike the MS beast as much as anyone, but this is just another shake-down. Is this from that British human rights activity group that gets onto Apple's case again?

Re:Say what? (0, Flamebait)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921654)

No, you clearly don't get it. China is this monstrous COMMUNIST country that survives on slave labor and censorship. Through constant, massive propaganda campaigns, the Chinese government is preparing its citizens for WAR with the West.

They have nuclear weapons, and have been hacking American government networks. They are evil, and should be feared at all cost.

Re:Say what? (2, Informative)

berwiki (989827) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921908)

sometimes I forget I can use other HTML markup besides the basics.

I didnt read your post, but found it very fascinating!

Re:Say what? (1)

Krupy (1727108) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921934)

I agree but you made a mistake, china is not communist country, they may call themselves communist but they aren't. China used to be communist country, now it isn't. China nowadays is just a plain totalitarian government. And in addition china is very capitalistic, just as western countries were in early industrial period before industrial revolution. The real communism's major goal should be "build utopia", just like in Star Trek. I know that this is possible, in 1968, before soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, czechoslovakian politicians were very active in human rights issues(it was called "socialism with human face"(direct translation)), but their effort was stopped the moment when Warsaw pact armies invaded our country. So true enemies of freedom and personal prosperity are monstrous power-hungry, imperialistic countries such as china or soviet union. In USA, I have no Idea about government but I know that companies with large amounts of money are enemies of your freedom because they simply don't care, and if you try to sue them, you fail because they have more lawyers.

Re:Say what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31921974)

No, you clearly don't get it. China is this monstrous COMMUNIST country that survives on slave labor and censorship. Through constant, massive propaganda campaigns, the Chinese government is preparing its citizens for WAR with the West.

They have nuclear weapons, and have been hacking American government networks. They are evil, and should be feared at all cost.

Woo, font change! I'm scared. Do you do email on the side?

Seriously, though, the thing you're omitting is that the Chinese people are perfectly fine with the labor and censorship. In the famous tradeoff between security an liberty, they want security. It's hard to understand the mindset, but you need to realize that these people have been ground under the heel of one oppressive boot or another for millennia. Seriously. And they don't want so much freedom that they go back to the warring states period.

As for the "war with the West" meme... That's more their military justifying themselves than anything else. They don't want any kind of World War III; their export economy would collapse almost immediately. They just want to take over Taiwan. (And Taiwan wants to take over the mainland, but they know they're under-equipped for it.) It's a much more limited goal.

The spying and network hacking has a lot more to do with economic espionage than military espionage, and also control of their dissidents' communications. They don't hack out electrical grid to shut it down at some future date; they hack it so they can get the code and make their own.

Re:Say what? (1)

tomtomtom777 (1148633) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921690)

Human rights activity? These girls are allowed to sleep during working hours ?! My employer would seriously kick my ass for that.

Re:Say what? (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921914)

With all respect for the effort made here, I have seen Chinese students overwork themselves with 16+ hrs days, 100% voluntarily, at a Dutch university... including sleeping on the table in front of the keyboard, and getting less than 3 hrs of sleep per night. There was no company behind them, no armed guards. Perhaps just their parents at 10000 km distance who demanded results.

We really have to distinguish between human rights and culture... and no, our Western culture is not necessarily superior.

Obviously, Microsoft, being a company, can be as good or as bad as they want. Stay within the laws of the country where you employ people and you're fine.
Similarly, its customers can demand a certain quality of life for the people who make the products they buy. You pay for the product that you want to buy... including all the sustainability issues (and work falls under sustainability in its broadest definition).
Those are all valid reasons to demand an improvement of the situation of those sleeping Chinese women.

Just don't demand it from your superior Western point of view.

Re:Say what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31922046)

Yeah, just pathetic American anti-China propaganda. The Americans can cry as much as they want, they already lost the economic war with China. The United States are a decadent, pathetic conglomerate of losers that cannot even speak their own language (?que? es la language de USA el Ingles?) on a properly way. China is the ascending power, with a fast growing medium class, a strong economy, a might military, and no pathetic "who-is-gonna-think-of-the-children" human rights groups that just hamper the economic development of any country.
And, besides, CHINA OWNS 2/3 of the US International debt, and the US is the country in the world with the biggest International debt, that means they own a lot of cash. So if happens that Obama don't get the money to pay they can just go and take Alaska and Hawaii as payment.
See, the United States during their ideological war to destroy the Soviet Union taught to the world that nothing else matters besides have a pocket full of cash, nice cars, beautiful houses and fast women. That is what all the American TV series teach us. So, now they are decadent and falling down, so the Chinese got all of those. It is the history. Empires come and go. And now is China time and the US will be relegated to the trash bin of history.
Americans, be glad if the Chinese are merciful like you and let you live, like you did with the pathetic UK, when you took their place.

I don't want to say it's not serious (4, Informative)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921490)

In China, it is common in many places to take a 30-45 minute nap after lunch, just sitting at your desk/workspace. While I cannot say that this is the case in this picture, it may not be as sinister as you would think at first glance. If there are 6 or 8 people sleeping and there isn't a manager with a cattle prod or whip in the background waking them up so they can get back to working, the conditions might not be *that* bad.

Re:I don't want to say it's not serious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31921528)

Herp derp, 'tis all good. I can now go back to my consumerism in good faith.

Re:I don't want to say it's not serious (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921696)

He was just pointing out some possible sensationalism here. And I agree with him. He wasn't discounting the accusation or saying the treatment of workers was OK. He was just making a point in fact.

All too often the media distorts things or adds "evidence" to the point of diminishing the credibility of the story. And then the detractors say "Hey look! That picture isn't really what's happening! I guess the rest of the story isn't true either!"

See. If the media was a bit more responsible with the facts and evidence, there wouldn't so many naysayers. I could mention another hotly debated topic but I want to keep the thread on topic.

Re:I don't want to say it's not serious (5, Insightful)

MacroSlopp (1662147) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921606)

I've toured several Asian factories and this is the reality of Asian work life. People live in factory dormatories, work 6 VERY long days a week, and sleep at their desks when they get tired. We can pretend that we're shocked, but we all know that goods from Asia are dirt cheap and yet we never seem to ask "WHY"? Is this willful blindness? Until we start imposing tariffs based on unequal labour standards, this will never change.

Re:I don't want to say it's not serious (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921636)

In China, it is common in many places to take a 30-45 minute nap after lunch, just sitting at your desk/workspace. While I cannot say that this is the case in this picture, it may not be as sinister as you would think at first glance.

Last time I saw this pic it was titled as something like "workers taking nap during downtime". So I feel that this story is really an attempt at an anti-MS beat up

Re:I don't want to say it's not serious (4, Insightful)

skine (1524819) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921640)

I think that this is more the point:

They are not allowed to talk or listen to music, are forced to eat substandard meals from the factory cafeterias, have no bathroom breaks during their shifts and must clean the toilets as discipline, according to the NLC.

The workers also sleep on site, in factory dormitories, with 14 workers to a room. They must buy their own mattresses and bedding, or else sleep on 28in-wide plywood boards. They 'shower' with a sponge and a bucket.

And many of the workers, because they are young women, are regularly sexually harassed, the NLC claimed.

The organisation said that one worker was even fined for losing his finger while operating a hole punch press.

Re:I don't want to say it's not serious (0, Troll)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921824)

I am not trying to be an apologist, but try to think outside the story for one quick minute. Did it mention that they were picked up out of their village, by force, and dropped in this factory-prison to work for a meager wage in intolerable conditions? Nope. These people did it on their own free will. Now if there is illegal coercion, harassment, or any other nonsense going on then by all means prosecute. I am all for equal rights, safe working conditions, and fair wages; but when workers willingly go to work somewhere, knowing full well what the conditions are, and they keep on working there year after year, what exactly is evil about it? People are great subconscious economists; if something isn't worth doing, they probably won't do it.

Things could be a lot better in China... They could be a lot worse too. One picture of some napping factory workers is just a stunt to get people riled up.

Re:I don't want to say it's not serious (4, Interesting)

Shihar (153932) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921884)

Yeah, I actually agree. Long shitty hours are pretty much par for an industrial revolution. China has a problem in that it hasn't developed enough of a middle class where it can be anything other than the cheap-o manufacturing center of the world. As their wages rise, it gets rougher to maintain their position as world factory. All developed nations go through it, but China is trying to do it in a very short timespan. When alls you have going for you is that you are cheap you need to be, well, cheap, at least until your middle class can take up some slack.

So, the fact that they work long shitty days is too bad, but the alternative is to look like Africa. This is life.

The real tragedy as the parent points out is that they are making it shittier than it has to be. Doing stupid shit like not letting your employees talk as they do a mind numbing job for 16 hours is not just malicious, it isn't productive. Anything to break up the tedium is going to make your employees more productive. I have heard this complaint far more than once when I talk to folk who do business in China that managers are simply sadistic for the sake of being sadistic. It is ingrain in their management cultural treating your employees like shit is a good thing, even when there is no conceivable business reason to do it. Certainly it isn't every single manager in China, but it is a non-trivial problem. Their manager class culture is just a dozen ways fucked up, and they make a shitty industrial revolution far more miserable than it has to be.

Re:I don't want to say it's not serious (5, Informative)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921958)

I think that this is more the point:

They are not allowed to talk or listen to music, are forced to eat substandard meals from the factory cafeterias, have no bathroom breaks during their shifts and must clean the toilets as discipline, according to the NLC.

I've been to the KYE factory (not for MS, for other clients) and while that is the official rule, you'll see every 3rd or 4th worker with a headset plugged into their phone, blasting out the latest Chinese pop tunes. There are rules, and there are "rules"; you do know that in China the car is supposed to yield for the pedestrian? Well, follow that rule and you'll die.

As far as meals, yeah, they suck. It's Chinese food cafeteria style. The cafeterias at Sundstrand when I worked there (18 years ago) sucked too with poor versions of mass-produced food. Guess what: cafeteria style food usually sucks. This isn't your modern Microsoft of Apple dining experience with independent restaurants bidding and competing to sell $9 lunches.

Bathroom breaks? Saw plenty go to the bathroom at KYE, Vtech, Compal, and other big places. Of course, you had to arrange for someone to cover your spot for 3-5 minutes, because that production line keeps going. They don't stop a 200 person line so one can take a leak. Typically they space breaks out so that your fellow workers can pick up the pace for a short burst to cover for you. And you do likewise.

The workers also sleep on site, in factory dormitories, with 14 workers to a room. They must buy their own mattresses and bedding, or else sleep on 28in-wide plywood boards. They 'shower' with a sponge and a bucket.

Dormitories are common in Southern China, especially in Dongguan and Shenzhen. Not so much in Ningbo, or Hangzhou, Suzhou, or other places. You know why? Because a cheap 1 bedroom apartment starts at 500 RMB a month; when you're making 800 RMB a month you can't live off-site. So you live in a dorm with a dozen others.

As far as beds, ever travel in China? Ever stay at a non-Crown Plaza/Sofitel/Hilton hotel, but a 4 or 5 star Chinese hotel? Great amenities, as good as the best in the US, but the beds - like freaking rocks with half a dozen sheets over them for padding. That's how beds are in China, literally a box spring or solid wood platform. It's what people have IN THEIR HOMES, even those that can afford a soft, Western mattress. There's a belief that a really firm bed will keep your spine straight and tall.

As far as sponge baths, welcome to Asia. You'll find that throughout Asia, not just in dorms, but even in mid and upper end homes. For example, I have a rather wealthy friend in Thailand, who lives outside of Chaiyaphum. Yes, she lived in the US for a decade, recently moved back home. Big beautiful new house, modern plumbing, AC, Internet, satellite TV, great place. And a big BUCKET with water, a smaller pan of water, and a washcloth for bathing. Nice modern toilet with a built-in bidet but a SPONGE BATH. When asked why, the answer is 'that is how we do it'.

And many of the workers, because they are young women, are regularly sexually harassed, the NLC claimed.

Yes, that does happen, and it's terrible. Many places in Asia still consider women as second-class; assholes love that kind of place. Happens all over, in fact...

The organisation said that one worker was even fined for losing his finger while operating a hole punch press.

Ummm... Yeah. Anything more than innuendo on that one? I've been in forging facilities with open pits for steel coils, wide-open 400 ton flywheel presses, etc. Nowhere near OSHA compliant (not unlike manufacturing facilities in the US and EU about 60-70 years ago). I've even seen an accident or two. Workers are shuffled off and cared for, and another is brought in to keep the machine running. One time the operator really screwed up and because of his bone-headed move (trying to TRIPLE-stamp - three pieces at once) not only gashed his arm good, but broke the tooling. He was fired on the spot as they taped his arm up to send him to the hospital...

But getting fined for getting injured? Never heard that one. Of course what do I know, I've only lived and worked in manufacturing facilities in China for the last 5 years...

Re:I don't want to say it's not serious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31921718)

In China, it is common in many places to take a 30-45 minute nap after lunch, just sitting at your desk/workspace. While I cannot say that this is the case in this picture, it may not be as sinister as you would think at first glance. If there are 6 or 8 people sleeping and there isn't a manager with a cattle prod or whip in the background waking them up so they can get back to working, the conditions might not be *that* bad.

Whew! For a second there I was having problems rationalizing this photo, thank you so much. Now I can continue on my day guilt free.

Re:I don't want to say it's not serious (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921736)

I think life for most people in China is very difficult. Think about it, there are 1 billion Chinese people in China. There is a HUGE oversupply of workers there allowing companies to take advantage of that and pay them almost nothing to do work. If you're uneducated, what choice do you have? You either make $.50 per hour or earn nothing and starve. If you turn down that job, there are thousands willing to do it instead.

Re:I don't want to say it's not serious (1)

arielCo (995647) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921804)

That would explain why *all* but 2 or 3 of them are "slumped" at the same time, which struck me as odd the second I saw the pic. But then again, people will choose what to see in *anything*.

in appalling conditions and 86f [30C] heat

Really? I know that matches many sweatshops in Asia and Central America, but this doesn't look like that. No visible sweat, no hair sticking to their necks (asian hair is mostly silky), reasonable ceiling height, fluorescent lighting. It rather looks like Daily Mail pasted a stereotypical description to go with the pic.

'This is not nearly enough to support a family. My parents are farmers without jobs. They also do not have pensions. 'I also need to worry about getting married, which requires a lot of money. Therefore'This is not nearly enough to support a family. My parents are farmers without jobs. They also do not have pensions., I stil l push myself to continue working in spite of my exhaustion.

Now this is typical and very believeable of chinese 'shops. Again, actual statement or made up?

Re:I don't want to say it's not serious (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921848)

Or maybe they just put their heads down so they wouldn't be seen on the photo some jackass photographer was taking for some magazine that doesn't interest them the slightest bit?

Re:I don't want to say it's not serious (1)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921866)

Seconded. It's exactly what I thought when I saw the photo.

They sort of think it's a healthy habit to have a short nap at noon -- I was like "what?!" when I was actually asked to take a nap. If I'm not mistaken the schools in China actually allocate "nap time" and encourage students to sleep.

Re:I don't want to say it's not serious (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921946)

I wish it was accepted in our office to do the same.
A 15 min nap can be more productive than a 30 min normal break.

I'm not saying that there are no human rights issues in China. I am just saying what I am saying. If you disagree, please read the text again...

Re:I don't want to say it's not serious (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921982)

In China, it is common in many places to take a 30-45 minute nap after lunch, . . .

Sounds great to me! SUBSCRIBE!

Now, how do I convince my (WASPish) parents that they are Chinese?

That's the difficult part of the equation.

Microsoft's remorse (2, Funny)

Myion (1662861) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921504)

I believe Microsoft might actually have a problem with this. Seriously, why are they working 15 hours when they could as well work 18?

It's not the wages (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921518)

It's the Hobson's Choice that these people have to make - in that it is their only (real) choice for work.

What is going on with those factory bosses that makes them want to whip/kill/etc.?

Culture of after lunch naps (3, Interesting)

Malc (1751) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921548)

Is this picture genuine? I'm inclined to think not. Having lived in Shanghai for a while, I can attest to a culture of after lunch naps in China, in an office where software engineers earn many times as much. I was quite surprised the first time I came back to the office after lunch, to find people strewn across their desks, or heads back on chairs. I was looking for our QA Lead one day and thought maybe he was off on holiday. No: he was snoozing on something like a yoga matt under the desk of an empty cubicle at the back of the office.

Really, don't trust the Daily Mail.

Re:Culture of after lunch naps (1)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921660)

I tend to agree with you. This is M$ we're dealing with and any chance to take these naps out of context is going to be jumped on. If there are bad practices going on here someone will find out and justice will (hopefully) be served.

Re:Culture of after lunch naps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31921862)

This is M$ we're dealing with

Probably a MS sub-sub-contractor. So probably not exactly MS per se. Also people are dumb. How do they think they get such cheap goods? Cheap labor. MS probably didnt dig into it much as it was say 30 cents to pack each box. Instead of the 90 cents someone else was quoting. People seem shocked this is going on. It has been going on for a LONG long long time everywhere. At the turn of the 20th century it was pretty common in the united states.

Please do not take this too harshly but please stop with the $ the 90s called they want their meme back. Everytime I see it I die a little. It was funny 20 years ago...

how odd, saw these photos weeks ago (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31921560)

why are we pointing fingers at Microsoft?
"KYE factory in China, which manufactures computer mice and webcams for Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Samsung, Best Buy, Foxconn, Acer, Logitech, ASUS and other US companies." doesn't Foxconn make shit for Apple?

i think all companies involved should fork over some huge payout between the workers involved

Change conditions, not factories (5, Insightful)

Peter Trepan (572016) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921562)

Unless they are being forced to work in this factory as literal slaves, the fact that they're doing it probably means it's the best option available. By all means lean on the factory to improve conditions, but before taking the business elsewhere for the sake of the employees, find out what the employees would do otherwise. Work in an even worse factory? Become prostitutes? Starve?

Nice headline, what about Apple, etc? (5, Insightful)

CXI (46706) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921574)

I know we always want to bash Microsoft here at Slashdot, but did the submitter fail to notice Foxconn (Apple's supplier), Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, Acer, Logitech and Asus all use this same manufacturing house? How about:

"Photos of Chinese Sweatshop Used By US Tech Companies"

I guess that just doesn't have the same bite? At least it's more accurate.

Re:Nice headline, what about Apple, etc? (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921836)

apple has been getting run through the alternative press lately for sweatshops, with nary a mention of the fact that practically every factory in china is a sweatshop. apple, microsoft, cisco, tonka, whoever, if you don't think the cheap plastic gewgaws you get for stupid cheap prices are being assembled with slave labor, think again.

Re:Nice headline, what about Apple, etc? (2, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921956)

Why would it say "Apple" when no Apple sourced products come from the factory in question? Sure Foxconn buys from them and Apple (among many other companies) buys from Foxconn, but Apple has also been auditing all the factories that source their products after they discovered this type of thing going on a few years ago. Here is the list of companies [nlcnet.org] outsourcing from KYE and their contact info. By all means contact them and express your intent not to purchase their crap. Please do not, however, conflate them with one of the few companies that is actually taking the issue seriously (for a few years at least). It makes me quite angry that companies like Apple get bad press when they do the right thing (like all the bad press Apple got when they discovered abuses while auditing a supplier) as if there was no difference between that and a human rights organization discovering these things when the company ignored the abuse or did not bother to even check.

How about: "Photos of Chinese Sweatshop Used By US Tech Companies" I guess that just doesn't have the same bite? At least it's more accurate.

No it doesn't have the same bite. By calling out a specific company, more bad press is drawn to that company and it is more likely they will act to manage the PR disaster. An article that just says US companies in general are doing something does not leave a specific name in people's minds and makes customers less likely to act for change. The headline is completely accurate, just not as informative as you'd like. But then, you don't seem too interested in accuracy if you decided to smear Apple without even finding out if that was true, presumably because of some prejudice on your part.

Nothing to worry about (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921596)

Eventually the Chinese equivalent of Upton Sinclair will write the Chinese equivalent of The Jungle and everything will magically get better.

Or maybe one day the Chinese people will come together in solidarity to form a national union to ensure better working conditions. No. That'll never work. It's too communistic.

Part of this is lack of other oportunities (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921602)

'This is not nearly enough to support a family. My parents are farmers without jobs. They also do not have pensions.

'I also need to worry about getting married, which requires a lot of money. Therefore, I still push myself to continue working in spite of my exhaustion.

Yes, it is deplorable working conditions, but what other options are there for these poor people? Starvation? Letting their parents and families starve?

As China develops further, we'll see less and less of this. And as pressure is put on Western companies, I hope they'll put pressure on their Chinese contract firms ( KYE Systems factory at Dongguan in this case) to treat their workers better.

As multinationals, many of them based in Asia (this isn't a problem that only American firms have, btw), move to other lower cost countries (Viet Nam, Bangladesh, Cambodia, etc... ) we will continue to see this sort of thing, I'm afraid.

That's something we need to do as consumers, demand better working conditions and better treatment of the environment in the manufacture of our products - even if it costs more.

Will another $5-$20 price increase on your big screen TV really hurt you if these folks get treated better and their drinking water isn't contaminated? Or to clean up their air so it doesn't burn their lungs when they take a breath?

I'm willing to pay more.

Money (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921616)

These Chinese workers earn just 34p an hour (about 52 cents in US dollars), work 15 hours shifts

The $.52 is meaningless; how much does an apartment cost? What is the price of food? When I was in Thailand in the USAF in 1974, the average wage was about $1,000/yr, but I rented a bungalow for $30/month (woman included), and could take three girls to a nice restaraunt for a dollar. It cost a nickle to go anywhere.

How many hours a day do American Microsoft programmers work?

It isn't just the Chinese who are being exploited, it's also the Americans whose jobs have been exported to China, and maybe even their American staff.

Re:Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31921708)

... and could take three girls to a nice restaraunt for a dollar.

Niiiiiiiiiiiiiice ..... =)

Re:Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31921916)

but I rented a bungalow for $30/month (woman included)

creep

Yawn (2)

FearKratos (1794192) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921634)

Blah Blah Blah, at least they're making money. Why these articles are a dime a dozen, if people are still surprised about it then do something about it.

Tired? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31921682)

What is that photo supposed to prove?
According to my limited experience, Chinese people do work long hours, but it's perfectly acceptable to take a nap every once in while.
It's not unusual to see a shopkeeper napping when no customers are around. That's not necessarily a sign of exhaustion.
But don't take my AC word for it:
http://www.chinasnippets.com/2005/07/07/a-chinese-nap/
http://sheinchina.blogspot.com/2008/01/nap-time-whenever-you-want-wherever-you.html

86f? Seriously? (2, Informative)

EaglemanBSA (950534) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921684)

I mean come on, 86 F? Oh NO! Not 12 degrees cooler than body temperature! I've worked on plant floors where the ambient temperature for my 16 hour day was >110 on average, and in some spots >125.

Do I make more money than them? Yes. Do I have more freedom than they likely do? Yes. Is my job less menial? Likely. But 86f? Please.

Re:86f? Seriously? (1)

bodland (522967) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921776)

86 degrees for sitting putting sticker feet on mice is excessive.
Working in a foundry or around big machines that generate lots of heat or are melting and extruding plastic is another matter...
Or were you putting stickers on mice at 120 degrees, while being beaten on the soles of the feet after walking 5 miles to work barefoot in the snow...

Re:86f? Seriously? (1)

chappers1 (1715080) | more than 3 years ago | (#31922014)

Remember this is from a British newspaper. Brits tend to start sweating, melting and declaring a heat-wave if the temperature goes much over 75 F.

Similar Experience (5, Interesting)

Allnighte (1794642) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921706)

This reminds me of the time I worked in a Sony TV manufacturing plant for 4 months. No heating or air conditioning, dirty restrooms, 12 hour shift where I'd gladly nap during my 10 and 30 minute breaks. The cafeteria basically only had snacks. Monotonous work. No sitting or resting outside of your breaks. Oh wait, this was in San Diego, California. Guess what, manual labor jobs suck? Congratulations! Of course I'm sure it's worse where OSHA isn't breathing down a company's neck, but is this really news? Did anyone expect Microsoft to *not* have these kinds of places?

Seems rather luxurious (0, Troll)

xednieht (1117791) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921716)

By comparison to our own industrial revolution and the labor abuses then this seems rather luxurious. They get sponge baths, offices (albeit crowded), and company meals? During the industrial transition children aged 9 and up were subjected to much worse conditions. It's a normal part of economic development. A country does wheat Reagan suggested and pulls itself up by its bootstraps and still people complain.

Bathroom Breaks (3, Funny)

Chysn (898420) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921740)

[The workers] have no bathroom breaks during their shifts and must clean the toilets as discipline, according to the NLC.

Come on, the toilets can't be that bad if nobody gets bathroom breaks. Sounds like a win for everyone!

Re:Bathroom Breaks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31921904)

They can still use the bathrooms before/after the shifts and during their 10 minute breaks.

NEWSFLASH: People Take Naps During Breaks (3, Insightful)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921762)

It may surprise many people who don't take naps, but there are in fact a lot of people who do - even in full view of others.
Not much different from eating lunch at your desk while checking /. - shocking to some, normal to others.

Move along.

Meaningless (3, Interesting)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921768)

This is all meaningless, the factory will get slapped on the wrist, the workers will lose their jobs and microsoft will make a comment about taking such accusations 'seriously' and that they are 'investigating'. The public will be outraged for a month or two before forgetting which large corporation they are supposed to hate this month. Then the news media will go away and at the next contract renewal the whole job will get bid out again.

The reason it is meaningless is because the Chinese system of contract factories will at most simply shift the work to another factory - in China. The lax oversight, weak wages and rampant corruption in the system that allowed this kind of thing to happen in the first place remain. The only way to fix the issue is to stop production in China altogether and shift production to another country. That is the only thing that could possibly get the Chinese government to give a damn. Until companies start to shift work out of China and into a country that isn't inherently corrupt it just a game of whack a mole.

All that being said, the same factory, with the same management, employing the same people could still easily rebid and get the next contract simply by playing around with the paperwork on who owns the factory.

China is one big sweatshop (1, Insightful)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921790)

All of China is the same, all products from there are made in some sort of sweatshop, or semi slavery condition. These people's backbones are what holds up the China boom. It's all based on cheap labor and no rights-no laws which add costs. England did the same at one time. It's the logical conclusion of a society where everything is measured in money terms. Slaves are the ultimate efficient factory "technology"- intelligent human labor, no cost. The economy, competition, lower costs pressure, demand this. Socialism or capitalism, it's the same, they are societies where production of stuff and money is king, human beings and everything else are at the service of these priorities. We need to get past the capitalism-or-socialism two sides of the same coin, and look to other alternatives, humanism is my favorite, but there are others too.

More propaganda (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31921844)

Reminds me of this North Korean propaganda film I saw some while back, which was a story about a South Korean girl who had to sell her eyes to save her dad (from what, I can't quite remember, but does it matter?).

Not everything is what it is made out to be.

Our luxury, their existence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31921890)

This photo doesn't really show anything. The narrative, if true, is abhorrent. But I think we have to ask ourselves if this is a Microsoft issue, an industry-issue or a global economy issue.

The modern first world lives on the backs of the lowest wage earners. Until we take ownership of this personally, blaming Microsoft fails to see what is seen when looking in a mirror. If you are wearing clothes, you are probably contributing to this type of slavery. If you have a computer, you are probably helping someone live a substandard life to your own.

If you are lucky enough to have an ounce of freedom, you should not be pulling out the Microsoft guns, you should be hanging your head in shame if you don't spend your resources helping the underpriveleged.

Some say the life of a Chinese factory worker is better than the life they were living before. It might be. But some also assume that these people can get up and walk out. That might not be true. They don't have the freedoms we have, for certain.

Here is hoping that meaningful dialog will ensue on this issue. I buy my next (insert-any-Chinese-good-here) hoping that in some way it improves the life of the Chinese commoner. They don't live like we do. Maybe we should live more like they do.

AAPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31921894)

Where are the pictures of Apple's sweatshop?

Yeah, but the benefits are great! (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921936)

And 52 cents isn't so bad, that's like a brand new Coca Cola every spirit-crushing hour.

Like MS is the only bad company here (1)

cjjjer (530715) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921966)

The workers also sleep on site, in factory dormitories, with 14 workers to a room. They must buy their own mattresses and bedding, or else sleep on 28in-wide plywood boards. They 'shower' with a sponge and a bucket.

Why is this different than any other company that has it's goods made in China. Maybe the OP and the articles author should watch the movie Manufactured Landscapes [imdb.com] they would realize that this is pretty much the status quo for all factories in China no matter how big or small and what kind of goods they make. Hell even kitchen appliances are made in conditions like these so it's not just the tech sector that is to blame or one specific company.

What a shitty article (3, Informative)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921968)

Take two paragraphs from it:

For as little as 34p an hour, the men and women work six or seven days a week, making computer mice and web cams for the American multinational computer company.

It was the militaristic management and sleep deprivation that affected the worker most. 'I know I can choose not to work overtime, but if I don't work overtime then I am stuck with only 770 Chinese yuan (£72.77p) per month in basic wages,' the worker said.

If the basic wage is £72.77 a month and they earn £0.34 an hour that gives a working week of just under 50 hours which doesn't seem like slavery to me. It also puts them at a comparable income to a chambermaid or baker, which makes sense since it's working the line at a factory.

If they are working 15 hours a day, 6 days a week at £0.34 that's £132.60 per month. That puts them at a comparable income to an accountant, which is insane amounts of money for working the line at a factory.

Chinese incomes taken from: http://www.worldsalaries.org/china.shtml [worldsalaries.org] (and using the "770 Chinese yuan=£72.77p" conversion rate from the paragraph quoted above).

Looking over all the comments I'm really surprised (3, Insightful)

greggish (319517) | more than 3 years ago | (#31921990)

that the majority are from uncaring scumbags defending these working conditions. Not sure why, but I just expected differently from the slashdot crowd.

Pissed about this! (2, Insightful)

ticklemeozmo (595926) | more than 3 years ago | (#31922044)

I'm mostly pissed that the guy making the mice is getting paid $0.52/hr but I have to pay $16 plus shipping to get one?!! I'm OUTRAGED! I don't think this would be such a big deal if the greedy corporations actually passed down some of the savings to us.

Yes, because of the pesky labor unions in the US, I can see a mouse needing to cost $16 if made here because some high-school dropout is entitled and thinks he should get $25/hr for putting self-adhesive feet on mice. But if you saving money on labor, how about the customer saves money too?
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