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MS investigates sweatshop allegations

Chinese workers said to be suffering.

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Image credit: Eurogamer

Microsoft has pledged to launch "a complete and thorough investigation" into working conditions at one of its Chinese manufacturing plants.

The promise comes after the National Labor Committee published a report on conditions at the KYE factory in Dongguan. The NLC claims workers as young as 14 are putting in 15 hour shifts, up to seven days a week, for 52 cents an hour. They are allegedly housed in primitive dorm rooms, served poor quality food, denied freedom of movement and forced to work in extreme temperatures.

Brian Tobey, who is in charge of manufacturing for Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices division, responded to the report on the company's blog.

"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," he wrote.

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

According to Tobey, an independent auditor has been paying visits to the KYE factory on an annual basis. "Over the past two years, we have required documentation and verification of worker age, and no incidence of child labor has been detected," Tobey claimed.

However, he added, Microsoft takes the new allegations "quite seriously", and an on-site audit of the factory is due to take place this week.

"We will have monitors on site pending the results of the inspection," Tobey pledged. "We will take all appropriate steps to ensure the fair treatment of the KYE workers."

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