Writing on Microsoft’s official blog, Brian Tobey (the corporate vice president of manufacturing and operations, entertainment and devices) has described the company as “very concerned” by a National Labor Committee (NLC) report .
The report made substantial claims about the poor working conditions at a KYE Systems factory in Dongguan, China, where Microsoft sub-contract the production of certain pieces of hardware (including gaming peripherals.)
“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,” Tobey wrote. “As part of Microsoft’s ongoing supplier SEA [Social and Environmental Accountability] program, an independent auditor has been inspecting the KYE factory annually.”
He also confirmed that “Another comprehensive on-site audit of the facility will be conducted next week, with a specific goal of investigating the allegations raised in the NLC report. In addition, we will have monitors on site pending the results of the inspection.”
Tobey’s claim that the KYE factory has already been subject to an annual independent audit raises some interesting questions. Was there a failure in the auditing process; were working conditions somehow kept hidden by the factory management; or were some of the issues highlighted by the NLC already reported in a previous audit but never acted upon?
The NLC report states that KYE Systems reported sales of $410 million USD in 2007 and $400 million USD in 2008.
We await the results of Microsoft’s investigation with interest.