Microsoft’s Chinese Workers Only Make $0.52 an Hour

Microsoft’s Chinese Workers Only Make $0.52 an Hour

Daily Mail
April 18, 2010

The image Microsoft doesn’t want you to see: Too tired to stay awake, the Chinese workers earning just 34p an hour

Showing Chinese sweatshop workers slumped over their desks with exhaustion, it is an image that Microsoft won’t want the world to see.

Employed for gruelling 15-hour shifts, in appalling conditions and 86f heat, many fall asleep on their stations during their meagre ten-minute breaks.

For as little as 34p an hour, the men and women work six or seven days a week, making computer mice and web cams for the American multinational computer company.

This photo and others like it were smuggled out of the KYE Systems factory at Dongguan, China, as part of a three-year investigation by the National Labour Committee, a human rights organisation which campaigns for workers across the globe.

The mostly female workers, aged 18 to 25, work from 7.45am to 10.55pm, sometimes with 1,000 workers crammed into one 105ft by 105ft room.

They are not allowed to talk or listen to music, are forced to eat substandard meals from the factory cafeterias, have no bathroom breaks during their shifts and must clean the toilets as discipline, according to the NLC.

The workers also sleep on site, in factory dormitories, with 14 workers to a room. They must buy their own mattresses and bedding, or else sleep on 28in-wide plywood boards. They ‘shower’ with a sponge and a bucket.

And many of the workers, because they are young women, are regularly sexually harassed, the NLC claimed.

The organisation said that one worker was even fined for losing his finger while operating a hole punch press.

Microsoft is not the only company to outsource manufacturing to KYE, but it accounts for about 30 per cent of the factory’s work, the NLC said. Companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, Foxconn, Acer, Logitech and Asus also use KYE Systems.

Microsoft, which exports much of the hardware made at the factory to America, Europe and Japan, said that it is taking the claims seriously and has begun an investigation.

One employee told the NLC: ‘We are like prisoners. It seems like we live only to work – we do not work to live. We do not live a life, only work.’

The NLC’s report included an account from one worker whose job consisted entirely of sticking self adhesive rubber feet to the bottom of Microsoft computer mice.

But the monotony of sitting or standing for 12 hours, applying foot after foot to mouse after mouse, was not the worst of the worker’s testimony.

It was the militaristic management and sleep deprivation that affected the worker most. ‘I know I can choose not to work overtime, but if I don’t work overtime then I am stuck with only 770 Chinese yuan (£72.77p) per month in basic wages,’ the worker said.

‘This is not nearly enough to support a family. My parents are farmers without jobs. They also do not have pensions.

‘I also need to worry about getting married, which requires a lot of money. Therefore, I still push myself to continue working in spite of my exhaustion.

‘When I finish my four hours of overtime, I’m extremely tired. At that time, even if someone offered me an extravagant dinner, I’d probably refuse. I just want to sleep.’

Charles Kernaghan, executive director of the NLC, said: ‘It sounded like torture – the frantic pace on the assembly line, same motion over and over for the 12 hours or more of work they did.’

Microsoft said it was committed to the ‘fair treatment and safety of workers’. A spokesman added: ‘We are aware of the NLC report and we have commenced an investigation.

‘We take these claims seriously and we will take appropriate remedial measures in regard to any findings of misconduct.’

Microsoft’s Chinese Workforce: “We Are Like Prisoners”


Why This “Bernanke Put” Could Make for the Scariest Halloween Ever

Why This “Bernanke Put” Could Make for the Scariest Halloween Ever
“And when you consider the subprime mortgage mess, the spillover effect that financial catastrophe has had on the global credit markets, and the sorry state of the U.S. housing market, well, those “facts” aren’t especially pretty.”

Keith Fitz-Gerald
Money Morning
October 31, 2007

The markets are clearly counting on the “Bernanke Put,” which is how market insiders refer to the Federal Funds rate cut nearly everyone is hoping for today (Wednesday).

I have to say that I’m dumbfounded.

I simply can’t understand why investors believe that another rate cut will somehow bail out the stock market and sweep away the nation’s housing and credit problems – as if Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke were the second coming of Harry Houdini.

Nor do I understand why millions of investors who have no rational belief in the tooth fairy, Santa Claus or any other creatures of myth and mirth, are willing to wager their hard earned money on nothing more than an assumption (with some folks, it’s more of a blind hope) that Team Bernanke will cut interest rates

What I think, though, really doesn’t matter leading up to the announcement that Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) policymakers will make at around 2:15 this afternoon.

In reality, what does matter are the facts. And when you consider the subprime mortgage mess, the spillover effect that financial catastrophe has had on the global credit markets, and the sorry state of the U.S. housing market, well, those “facts” aren’t especially pretty.

The bottom line: No matter what the Fed actually does today, there are three key factors that underscore why it is crucial for you to “go global” – as always, the dominant theme here at Money Morning. Let’s take a look at just why this is the case:

  • First, the Fed usually bases its interest-rate decisions on inflation. Right now, inflation is running at an annualized rate of almost 2.5%, meaning it is well above the central bank’s well-established “comfort zone” of 1% to 2%. (If you really want a Halloween scare, check out which tracks unadulterated versions of the CPI that are tracking north of 6% at the moment).

  • Second, the Bernanke-led Fed is right now engaged in the shell game of its monetary life. The central bank desperately wants to create the perception that inflation will take a breather. Not surprisingly, much of the commentary it has provided recently is oriented around the notion that oil prices will stop rising and that the credit crisis will ease. In other words, Bernanke & Co. are trying to get us to focus on an “inflation-free” future – ignoring what’s right in front of our noses. I find that worrisome at best, and troublesome at worst, for it leaves me wondering just what they really know. Hmmm….

  • Third, Team Greenspan – and now Team Bernanke – has created and then perpetuated what is probably the most massive asset bubble of all time [and given the Godzilla-sized bubble Japan created back in the 1980s, we’re really saying something here] by allowing real interest rates to slip to unprecedented lows. Greenspan dropped rates in the late 1990s to stave off an implosion of our financial system because of the Asian Contagion and the collapse of the Long-Term Capital Management hedge fund – only to inflate the money bubble that created the “dot-bomb” debacle. When Internet stocks imploded, we merely shifted what was left of our excess capital from stocks and into real estate – creating a housing bubble fueled largely by a barrage of hazy “liars’ loans.” I mean, to borrow under some of those subprime- and “no-documentation” mortgage loan programs, prospective borrowers essentially only needed a heartbeat and they could obtain money to buy a house, or car, or some other hard asset. That ill-advised credit policy finally came home to roost this summer, as banks realized they couldn’t accurately value the asset-backed debt and the credit markets seized up. Now we’re left with a greenback so tattered that it looks like something a Depression-era hobo would wear while hopping a westbound freight train.

After reviewing all this “evidence,” I reach two inescapable conclusions – both of which point to higher inflation:

  • First, there’s still too much easy money available [in technical terms, the money supply is still way too high], an inflation-inducer if ever I’ve seen one.
  • And, second, judging from the fact the global economy is still accelerating – even as the U.S. market slows – real interest rates are far too low to slow inflation down.

So when the Bernanke and the policymaking Federal Open Market Committee end their two-day meeting with a public pronouncement this afternoon, it will take one of the following three forms:

  • First, the Fed could cut rates again. Given the way the markets reacted to the Sept. 18 “Bernanke Surprise,” you can almost bet the ranch that a rate reduction of any magnitude would fuel an immediate rally in U.S. stock prices. However, it will simultaneously make the dollar weaker than it already is. And that’s going to mean more pain for American consumers because foreign made goods will be made more expensive. So will fuel. However, this will likely point to more big gains for investors holding shares of companies deriving a substantial portion of their sales and profits from outside U.S. borders.

  • Second, Fed policymakers could actually raise interest rates – although that’s about as likely as the Air Force holding a press conference to say that a UFO really did crash at Roswell. This would make the U.S. dollar more valuable to overseas investors, but U.S. investors and consumers would suffer as U.S. stocks plunged. The only domestic beneficiaries might be the cardiologists called in to treat patients who’d suffered coronaries over the unexpected news. Globally, this might actually fuel growth, since investors worldwide would have more confidence that all markets would advance.

  • Third, the Fed could stand pat, and do nothing. The decision alone would not affect the greenback’s value in either direction. However, global traders would likely take the dollar down anyway as companies begin raising prices to keep up with the inflationary pressures being felt around the world. And as you probably guessed, global growth – sans the U.S. market – would continue unabated.

No matter what the Fed decides to do, make sure to pay close attention to its commentary, and especially to its near- and long-term outlooks. Given that they’re being issued on Halloween, they could well be scary as anything for investors – especially if they’re expecting one scenario but end up getting another.

And no matter what the outcome is for the U.S. economy, nothing will change the green light for global growth. And that’s yet one more example of the American consumer, for so long the integral cog in global growth, becoming increasingly irrelevant on the world stage.


NASCO to collect each time RFID containers tagged

Superhighway a cash cow?
NASCO to collect each time RFID containers tagged

Jerome R. Corsi
September 5, 2007

North America’s SuperCorridor Coalition, Inc., or NASCO, has figured out a way to cash in on the Chinese containers passing along the NAFTA Superhighway from the Mexican ports of Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas to U.S. and Canadian destinations.

WND has obtained a copy of a draft preliminary joint venture contract between Savi Networks and NASCO, specifying that NASCO will get paid 25 cents for each “revenue-generating intermodal ocean cargo container” registered by the RFID sensors the communist Chinese are now installing along Interstate 35.

As WND reported, Savi Networks is a joint venture between U.S. military defense contractor Lockheed Martin and Hutchison Ports Holdings, a Chinese ports management company with close ties to the Chinese military and the communists running China’s government.

The idea is for Savi Networks and NASCO to develop an RFID-based corridor management system in which each joint venture partner ultimately will collect payments for the millions of free trade containers they are planning to channel up the I-35 NAFTA Superhighway, as well as other north-south trade corridors currently being planned in the continental United States.

Hutchison Ports Holdings already is paying billions to deepen Mexican ports such as Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas in anticipation of the arrival of container mega-ships capable of holding up to 12,500 containers currently being built for Chinese shipping lines.

The draft contract specifies “Savi Networks will invest capital to implement RFID network systems to provide visibility and security of containers transiting these nodes. In return, Savi Networks will share revenue with NASCO from each Savi Networks ‘container transaction.'”

Chips placed in containers where manufactured goods are shipped from China will be tracked to the Mexican ports where the intermodal containers are unloaded directly onto Mexican trucks and trains for transportation on the I-35 corridor to destinations north.

As WND reported, data captured by the RFID sensors would be sent to a data collection center that NASCO has named “The Center of Excellence.”

The Center of Excellence data collection center will be integrated into Lockheed Martin’s militarized Global Transport Network Command and Control Center that is installed and operating at the Lockheed Martin Center for Innovation or “Lighthouse” facility in Suffolk, Va.

Lockheed Martin’s GTN was developed for the U.S. Department of Defense as an electronic system used to support supply shipments and defense logistics to U.S. armed forces deployed worldwide.

GTN is operated by the U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.

The joint venture draft contract specifies Savi Networks will install the RFID sensors along I-35 to establish “a stand alone demonstration of the NASCO-SaviTrak system, able to be demonstrated to key stakeholders, customers, regulators, government funding sources, and other parties critical to the success of the project.”


Name changed to hide ‘Superhighway’?
WND obtains secret document revealing original moniker of ‘SuperCorridor’

Jerome R. Corsi
September 2, 2007

A 1998 document which WND has obtained shows the North American SuperCorridor Coalition, or NASCO, was originally named the North American Superhighway Coalition.

The document plays into an emerging debate in which a number of critics, including President Bush, want to deny that a NAFTA “Superhighway” exists.

Christopher Hayes, writing in the Aug. 27 edition of the Nation claimed that, “There is no such thing as a proposed NAFTA Superhighway.”

President Bush at the third summit meeting of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America in Montebello, Quebec, on Aug. 21, answered a question from a reporter at Fox News that NAFTA Superhighways were part of a “conspiracy theory.”

The document involves a June 10, 1998, letter written to Tiffany Newsom, executive director of NASCO, by Francisco J. Conde, editor and publisher of the Conde Report on U.S.-Mexico Relations.

Conde addresses NASCO as North America’s Superhighway Coalition and compliments Newsom and NASCO for supporting the Interstate Highway 35 Corridor Coalition consulting team at David A. Dean & Associates, P.C. and Dean International, Inc.

The letter goes on to note the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, or TEA-21, was signed into law by President Clinton on June 9, 1998.

Conde writes that, “This bill contains for the first time in history a category and funding for trade corridors and border programs.”

He continues, “The I-35 corridor is the strongest and most organized of the corridor initiatives so, if we play our cards right, we stand to get a part of the $700 million.”

NASCO’s original homepage in June 2006 opened with a map highlighting the I-35 corridor from Mexico to Canada.

Conde was referring to a section of TEA-21 devoted to a new National Corridor Planning and Development program, identifying highway corridors that were specifically identified with international trade and a Coordinated Border Infrastructure program designed “to improve the safe and efficient movement of people and goods at or across the U.S./Canadian and U.S./Mexican borders.”

A desire to obtain funds under TEA-21’s corridor initiative may have been responsible for changing NASCO’s name from North America’s Superhighway Coalition to North America’s SuperCorridor Coalition.

Interestingly, combining “SuperCorridor” into one word allowed preserving the correspondence required to continue using “NASCO” as the acronym for the newly renamed organization.

A close reading of NASCO’s website shows NASCO does not deny that a NAFTA Superhighway exists.

NASCO insists on identifying the NAFTA Superhighway with the existing I-35, denying only that plans exist to build a new NAFTA Superhighway.

As WND has previously reported, this point is made clear by a sentence on the NASCO website which states, “There are no plans to build a new NAFTA Superhighway – it exists today as I-35.”

Yet, NASCO has repeatedly refused to repudiate the plans of the Texas Department of Transportation to build the Trans-Texas Corridor as a new four-football-fields wide superhighway corridor parallel to the existing I-35.

An archived version of the NASCO website going back to Oct. 24, 2005, documents that NASCO played a role in lobbying for the creation of the National Corridor & Planning Development program and the Coordinated Border Infrastructure program when TEA-21 was being passed.

“We have assisted in the lobbying effort to bring hundreds of millions of dollars to the NASCO I-35 Corridor, resulting in High Priority Status for I-35 in 1995 under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficacy Act (ISTEA),” the 2005 NASCO website noted. “In addition, we successfully assisted in lobbying for the creation of two new categories under the Transportation Act of the 21st Century (TEA-21) – the National Corridor Planning & Development Program and the Coordinated Border Infrastructure

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