Hundreds of Foxconn employees threaten suicide

11 Jan 2012

Between 150 and 300 workers at Foxconn’s Technology Park in Wuhan, China, where parts for the Xbox 360 are reportedly manufactured, have threatened to commit mass suicide to protest working conditions, according to reports.

Want China Times reports about 300 employees at the plant threatened to jump off the top of a building within the technology park over a payment dispute with their boss.

They reportedly asked for a pay rise on 2 January, when their boss told them either to quit their jobs with compensation or keep them without getting extra pay. However, when many of the employees selected the first option, the company cancelled the deal and did not give them the money they were owed, sparking the employee protest.

The mayor of Wuhan was reportedly called to stop the employees from committing suicide and they were eventually persuaded not to do it.

However, Foxconn made a statement to The Register, saying 150 employees took part in “a workplace incident” over the company’s decision to “transfer all employees in their business unit to another business unit within that campus due to a shift in production lines.”

It said it was resolved with Foxconn officials and government representatives, with 45 employees choosing to resign and the remaining protesters choosing to stay on at the company.

While Microsoft has not yet confirmed that the plant builds its Xbox 360 parts, it said the company is committed to ensuring that employees are treated fairly by their vendors.

“Microsoft takes working conditions in the factories that manufacture its products very seriously, and we are currently investigating this issue,” said Microsoft in a statement.

“We have a stringent Vendor Code of Conduct that spells out our expectations, and we monitor working conditions closely on an ongoing basis and address issues as they emerge.

“Microsoft is committed to the fair treatment and safety of workers employed by our vendors, and to ensuring conformance with Microsoft policy,” said the company.

Foxconn conditions

The Foxconn Technology Group is responsible for manufacturing many of the biggest consumer technology products in the world for companies such as Apple, Sony and Dell.

Its work conditions were called into question after numerous employees committed suicide in recent years. Its employees live and work on the premises in on-site dormitories.

Apple conducted an audit of 127 manufacturing facilities in China in February of last year. Apple CEO Tim Cook, who was then the COO, said the review recommended that Apple should hire more psychological counsellors, should build a 24-hour care centre and should attach large nets in factories to prevent impulsive suicides.