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How I Spent My Summer Vacation

April 16, 2010

KYE Systems Corp. is doing its part in helping keep Chinese students off the streets during their summer breaks and out of trouble by hiring them for “work-study” programs. Unfortunately, a new report from The National Labor Committee (NLC) details numerous labor law and human rights violations.

Here is a brief summary of how the students spent their summer vacations:

  • 15-hour work days
  • Prohibition of talking, listening to music or bathroom use during work hours
  • Guards sexually harassing female employees
  • Being paid $0.52 USD per hour
  • Sharing a dorm room with 13 other workers
  • Making a mandatory minimum of 2,000 Microsoft mice per shift
  • Working in a factory that exceeds 86 degrees

According to the NLC report, “China does not have unions in the sense of the word.” Through its hiring practices, KYE has set up an environment that ensures no collective bargaining will ever take place at its plants.

First, KYE has hired workers who have no knowledge of labor laws. The workers “have no idea how to ask for legal arbitration or to settle issues at work.” In addition to taking advantage of their ignorance, management likes to hire “young students because they are easy to manage and control.”

One worker talked about what she did at the factory,

The job entails taking soybean-sized rubber pads off of gummed paper, and placing them one-by-one on the bottom of the mouse. This is a mind-numbing job. I am basically repeating the same motion over and over for over twelve hours a day. After only a few hours, my colleagues and I begin to feel sore in our necks, shoulders and backs.

In his book, Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century, Harry Braverman talks extensively about how companies have deskilled craft work by breaking up a complex task into several simple repetitious routines. By transforming a skilled-craft into a low-skilled job, the factory can pay its workers lower wages. It can also replace workers much faster since it takes less time to train the new employee.

Here are some of the companies that are contributing to the “scholarships” for the “work-study” programs: Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Best Buy, Samsung, Foxconn, Acer, Wi/IFC/Logitech, Asus-Rd.

Thanks to KYE, the students have something to talk about when they return to school and are asked how they spent their summer vacations.

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