Microsoft says it's sending inspectors to investigate -- and, if necessary, correct -- possible adverse conditions workers making Xbox 360 controllers and other hardware at its Dongguan, China factory.
On its official blog
, the company said it's "very concerned" about a report by the National Labor Committee damning conditions at the factory.
The report, titled "Young, Exhausted and Disposable: Teenagers Producing For Microsoft
" cited "unprecedented photographs of exhausted teenaged workers, toiling and slumping asleep on their assembly line during break time," claiming young workers were paid 65 cents an hour to assemble computer mice -- prior to deductions for food.
It described long hours and violations of Chinese labor laws, painting a grim picture of a working life where employees must request permission to use the bathroom or drink water, and "fetch hot water in a small plastic bucket to take a sponge bath." It also alleged that female employees are sexually harassed by security guards.
An associated invoice
[PDF link] from September 2006 related to the investigation reveals that Xbox 360 controllers and universal media remotes are some of the pieces of hardware being made at the factory.
"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," says Microsoft today. "If we find that the factory is not adhering to our standards, we will take appropriate action."
The company did say it had been conducting its own assessments of the facility to ensure that it verifies worker age and has not detected any incidence of child labor nor safety violations.
"Despite these earlier findings, we take the allegations raised this week quite seriously," says the company, promising to conduct an onsite audit of the facility next week and to ensure appropriate treatment of the Chinese workers.