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"The price of justice is eternal publicity." Arnold Bennett

Intel Penang, Malaysia


If you want to join Intel be aware and think again Intel runs a sweatshop in Penang

Intel Penang - work place of choice?? Think again!!

When one speaks about Intel, he/she thinks of a number one company to work for. Why not? It is the best semiconductor company in the world. It appears in the top fortune 500 as one of the best companies. But, let me caution you. What you perceive is, not necessarily the true picture of the what you think!

 The work place sucks. People are expected to work long hours. If you don't you are black listed. They are suppose to promote a balance between work and life so that there is ample time for work and play. The truth is, they ensure your are 24 hours connected. A pager is commonly given to all exempt employees. Next you are given a note book and expected to view your mails after work. As though this is not enough, you are even given a hand phone so that you can be access easily. What balance of work and life do you think you can get? And guess what, rumors are abound that by year 2003,everyone will get a notebook!

There is a term called virtual factory whereby all the factories throughout the world are suppose to operate like one site. So meetings are held with all sites involved such that meetings may be in the wee hours of the morning or late at night. But one thing stay different. All such meetings are run during the normal working US hours. Hence what does this mean? Non-US sites are exploited!

General tendency is for a person to work for first 3-5 years without any hitches. After that, you will most likely be a slower or improvement required (IR) candidate. Oh don't be unduly worried as this is a corporate practice to allocate 5-10% of the work force in such categories. Greatest joke of all, some departments even practice rotational basis so that the impact is not so great. If the other best companies doesn't retort to such practices, then why Intel? Isn't it unscrupulous act trying to remove senior people and replace with new people with lower pay and easier to exploit? 

The latest trend today is much shorter product life cycles and so people are made to shift to new jobs with new responsibilities much faster than anyone can take. If you don't sign up then you are deemed useless and not agile enough. There is no incentive for the move and you can resign if you don't like it. Intel claims not to practice any voluntary retrenchment. Why not? There are multinational companies in the region who does that and people are happy to leave if they find it difficult to cope. Not only this, they practice double standards whereas Intel US compensates people in such situations but not for off shore sites. 

Hence in short, I hope people tending to join this company be aware and think again. Otherwise be mentally prepared to go through what I have just described, high-tech sweatshop.

Sick of Intel,

From Penang, Malaysia

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Intel runs a sweatshop in Penang, Malaysia

You can publish my comments but please keep my identity confidential. I think the rest of the public should know what Intel is about.

I dare not put my real name here. That's why I registered with a fake name on a free email account. I have been following your anti-Intel home page for quite a while now. I have always wanted to write in to let the world know what's been happening at Intel's operation in Malaysia, but never dared to do so fearing that something might happen to me. For Intel is very powerful, especially if one works for them in Asia, where things are very different from States.

I left Intel after working for them for more than 3 years. I was employed as an Intel Penang employee and my job's nature required me to travel to other Intel sites in States very often. I saw a great deal during my visits to the United States, things that made me very uncomfortable with life.

Most of the articles brought up in this homepage only talk about the harassment that occurs in US Intel sites but never about how Intel would take advantage of employees in foreign sites. As in Asia, things are very different and after all, it is amazing the amount of influence that Intel has over the local government in Asian countries. Since the amount of investment in these countries is so large, Intel plays an abusive significant role in local economy, employment market, and consequently politics.

These are some of the things that I believe need to be known to the public:

1. Intel Penang is nothing but a sweatshop, Intel engineers are expected to work 12 to 16 hours a day, often even on weekends and mostly without overtime compensation. There is this so called allowance, RM$50 or equivalent of about US$13 for every 4 hours of additional time put in. The problem is that Intel Penang management expects the engineers to be giving their extra time to the company and if an employee claims this extra allowance, they will automatically be blacklisted. Intel Penang is obsessive about controlling costs and in most part on employees account. This appears to be the only reason that Intel Corporation would want to invest in a foreign site, ultimate exploitation of human resources.

2. Intel Penang's engineers are put under such tremendous pressure that quite a number of engineers have divorced due to an imbalanced life. This might be a little difficult for people in the United States to comprehend, but in Asia getting a divorce is a very big thing. In Asia it is looked upon as a social stigma. It happens very rarely among Asians but it does happen quite often among Intel Penang employees. Don't be surprised that most engineers in Intel Penang work 12 to 16 hours (sometimes 20 hours) a day and very often, weekends. I've been required to work until 6.00 or 7.00 am, day after day for up to 3 months. This means working 20 hours a day, 7 days a week!! This is a common occurrence in Intel Penang.

3. If you have the ambition to continue your studies in for example MBA, employees can apply to Intel Penang for financial help. But of course, the help doesn't come free. Intel Penang will provide the financial aid but only if the employee signs a document that states, upon graduation the employee has to continue working for Intel Penang for two years. If the employee does decide to separate from Intel with in two years following their graduation, Intel Penang would take legal action against the employee.

4. Should the employee have the ability to and chooses to finance their pursuance of education, he/she will be blacklisted. Intel Penang highly discourages employees, especially engineers, to pursue the continuation of their education as this would affect the amount of extended hours that they could work for the company. I have several friends who have been blacklisted due to the fact that they continued their education. The black-listing, means that the employees receive bad reviews irrespective of their fine accomplishments, because the employee will not be able to put in the extra time that other engineers that are not attending school are able to work.

5. Intel Penang falsely claims to the public that they do a lot for the benefit of the community, but they do not tell the whole story. For example, they have this beautifully portrayed "Intel Scholarship" program. Intel Penang would go to local universities giving out scholarships to under-privileged students. The scholarship is comprised of a  yearly amount of RM$5,000 or almost equivalent of US$1,300 per year for a total of 4 years. This is not free of course. Intel Penang demands that the student sign a document that requires him/her to finish school and work for Intel Penang for a period of 4 years (This is what Asians call "bond") and I think in US its called indenturing, basically Intel's scholarship is nothing by entrapment that puts shackles on students.

If during this time-frame, the student (following graduation from school) decides to leave Intel Penang legal action will be taken against them regardless of the reason the employee has for terminating their employment. During the time they work for Intel Penang they get low pay, minimum incremental raises, and bad reviews regardless of how well they perform. Intel Penang knows that the employee will not be able to leave the company no matter what happens. Intel calls this a scholarship program, I thought scholarships are supposed to be without strings attached, but Intel Penang' scholarships for sure are attached with shackles. You have to remember that this is Asia we're talking about, there is no such thing as taking the employer to court. Employment laws are very week and almost no protections for employees, this is another fundamental reason why Intel establishes plants in countries like Malaysia.

6. Intel Penang sends many of their engineers to US Intel's sites for "training". Once these Intel Penang engineers are at the US sites, they are asked to work regularly and no training occurs. There are no differences between the responsibilities that the Intel Penang engineer has than those other Intel US employees. The difference is the amount of compensation for the Penang employee and the US employee. The Penang employee, while working in US (or "training" as referred to by Intel), is paid in Asian currency and not US currency. A fresh graduate of EE in Penang is paid a mere RM$2,200 which is equivalent of about US$550 dollars per month. What happens is an Intel Penang engineer is sent to US for training, but in actuality is working the same job as the US employee for far less money, what an elaborate ploy. This is what the Penang engineers refer to as "cheap labor." which is actually slavery?

An engineer can refuse to join the training program but no one dares to do so, if an engineer does refuse they would be black listed. This happens because when an engineer is sent to US for training, they have to sign a document with Intel Penang to "bond" themselves for a period of two years (it use to be 3 years) upon their return to Penang. If an employee is not in the training program (which means you haven't sign any documents with Intel Penang) the employee can leave the company anytime they want. They are not considered to be "in the group" and will be pressured by management to either leave Intel or join the program or some other Intel Penang program that "bonds" the employee to Intel Penang. As you see this is just a dictatorship that force people into a catch 22 situation.

7. Throughout my years of working together with Intel US employees, I have found that Intel takes advantage of non-American employees. They are normally paid a lower wage, and given tasks that would always force them to over-work themselves way beyond the normal office hours while awaiting to get their green card, which is sponsored by Intel and can take a long period of time. I have friends in Intel (US sites) that have been working for Intel for more than 4 years and have yet to receive their green cards. The wage that they are paid is far below market rates. This is clearly exploitation of foreign employees by Intel.

8. There are numerous occasions in Intel that I personally know of that engineers work really hard and deserve a good pay raise or promotion yet never receive it because they are not a good buddy of the manager. Employees who "suck-up" really well and get to be buddies with the managers, but have done very little for the company are promoted and given huge paychecks. This is something that occurs in every single Intel site and is most evident in Intel Penang. There are cases of engineers with only one to two years of experience (haven't done anything to prove themselves as yet), but are getting paychecks that are larger than those engineers who have been working hard for more than 5 years. This due to the fact that the one engineer with huge paycheck happens to be a good buddy of the senior managers of that department.

One can be very amazed and difficult to understand as to why all these nonsense happens in Intel and many of the Intel employees in the Asian sites are so clearly taken advantage of beyond anything else, and yet they still take the abuse while they, seemingly, remain loyal to Intel. Of course it's obvious that when an employee who is in his/her 20's and being so badly overworked and stressed that they exhibit symptoms of  deteriorating health like high blood pressure and anal bleeding due to stress-related ulcers, divorce due to imbalanced life, loss of personal social life due to extreme long hours in the office... and if they still are working at Intel is only due to sheer force of financial need, fear, intimidation due to Intel's bondage system and should not be mistaken with loyalty and conscience choice.

Perhaps it is their right to feel the loyalty to Intel even though all of them are severely over-worked and under-paid, but to me, all these discriminations that Intel Penang and Intel Corporation have put on their employees is something that should not be tolerated. For this is clearly a predatory abuse of power by taking advantage of those that are not in a position to take on Intel in the legal field. Divide, isolate, create need, intimidate and rule is the name of the game that Intel plays. Unfortunately employees do not realize how powerful they can be if they unite.

I personally have had very nasty experience with Intel and I have chosen to leave quietly. For I do not possess the financial capability to take them to court. And I am still in Asian and I am still fearful of what Intel can do to me. After all, they are one of the biggest foreign investor in Asia. The destructive clout they hold is simply incredible. I just hope that people will realize all these and that Intel Corporation's management would realize it as well and work together with the employees to make Intel (US and off-shore) to be a better place to work.

Again, please do not reveal where I am or my identity. For I really sincerely do fear what Intel might do to me. Call me paranoid but I am after all an Asian and this is where Intel holds a huge amount of influence in the local government.


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