TSMC tells US workers to expect long shifts or find another job

(Image credit: Taiwanese Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.)

"Those who are unwilling to take shifts should not enter the industry." So says TSMC chairman Mark Liu in response to criticisms of the chip manufacturer by US employees. Ouch.

According Fortune (via Tom's Hardware), TSMC is currently running at just 27% approval rating among its US employees. For context, Intel is said to enjoy an 85% approval ratings.

As for a quote from the other end of the workforce from TSMC's chairman, try this for size. "I cannot stress how brutal the work-life balance is here," one US employee is quoted as saying.

That said, Fortune does point out that TSMC's rating is the result of just 91 reviews on the website Glassdoor. Intel's rating is the consequence of tens of thousands of reviews.

To get a feel for how TSMC operates in its home nation of Taiwan, Fortune says it has spoken directly to employees. One said that it is "impossible" for mid-tier managers to express opinions to upper-level managers. "It's simply cannot be done." The same employee said that workers are afraid to ask for overtime pay that is due to them.

Meanwhile, according to Focus Taiwan, TSMC chairman Liu says that US employees aren't expected to work to the same standards as their Taiwanese counterparts and that work environment expectations are open for discussion. However, it was then that he added the bombshell quote discouraging anyone unwilling to "take shifts" from entering the industry.

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The context for all of this is the $40 billion that TSMC is investing in two production facilities in Arizona. The first is expected to come on line next year, with the second spinning up in 2026. 

TSMC is expecting to produce chips on its 4nm and 3nm nodes. That has lead to speculation that GPUs and CPUs from the likes of AMD and Nvidia could be made in the US. It's a very long time since high performance GPUs in particular were manufactured in the US.

What impact any of this will have on TSMC's plans in the US is unclear. But the uncompromising comments by TSMC's chairman are anything to go by, the company may have a little to learn when it comes to managing PR.

Jeremy Laird
Hardware writer

Jeremy has been writing about technology and PCs since the 90nm Netburst era (Google it!) and enjoys nothing more than a serious dissertation on the finer points of monitor input lag and overshoot followed by a forensic examination of advanced lithography. Or maybe he just likes machines that go “ping!” He also has a thing for tennis and cars.