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Taking It Very Seriously

April 17, 2010

In attempt to clear its collective conscious, Microsoft has responded to the allegations regarding the National Labor Committee’s (NLC) report regarding underage students working in horrible conditions at KYE plants. Fast Company writer Addy Dugdale first wrote about the NLC report here and has followed up regarding Microsoft’s response here.

In its official statement, Microsoft said it will “take appropriate action” if the independent auditors it has hired to investigate KYE find it “is not adhering to our standards,” but what will be the appropriate action?

Microsoft’s statement also stated that “an independent auditor has been inspecting the KYE factory annually.” According to Ms. Dugdale, Microsoft has been using the factory since 2003. The NLC report shows evidence of abuse in 2007 and 2008. So why was Microsoft not aware of what was happening in both those years? A number of things could have happened such as the auditor not submitting a full report, omitting those details from the report or Microsoft dismissing the auditor’s findings.

Finally, Ms. Dugdale points out that the NLC doesn’t want Microsoft to pull out of China because the people who work in those plants will lose their jobs and the much needed income. Many of the workers come from poor rural areas. The money they make is sent back to their families, most of whom are struggling farmers. However, the issues of wages, working conditions, worker rights and allegations of mistreatment need to be addressed. Microsoft has the chance to use its financial power to put pressure on its business partners in China to adhere to fair labor practices.

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