As most people know, many of the electronic components sold in the US are manufactured overseas because of cheaper labor costs. This has always been a mixed blessing as it provides more affordable products, but also prevents more jobs from coming to American shores. Though from the look of things, not many American laborers would be lining up for a job at Foxconn.
Foxconn, one of the world’s largest electronic component manufacturers for companies such as Apple, Dell, HP, Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft, reportedly dealt with the threat of a mass suicide from some 300 workers from the Foxconn Technology Park in Wuhan, China from the WantChina Times. Gameplanet also reports that these workers were specific to the XBox 360 line.
The dispute reportedly began after workers went to company officials looking for wage increases. Foxconn denied the request and offered employees the option to either continue working at the current wage or be given a dismissal package. Many opted for the latter. Upon this, Foxconn reneged on the offer.
Microsoft’s Phil Spencer, in response to the situation was quoted, “Foxconn has been an important partner of ours and remains an important partner. I trust them as a responsible company to continue to evolve their process and work relationships… That is something we remain committed to – the safe and ethical treatment of people who build our products. That’s a core value of our company.”
Later, Microsoft released a general statement regarding the incident stating, “Microsoft takes working conditions in the factories that manufacture its products very seriously, and we are currently investigating this issue… 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.”
Internal emails revealed the actual number of employees protesting may have only been 150 in total with only 45 choosing the resignation compensation package.
Microsoft would later go on to add, “After talking with workers and management, it is our understanding that the worker protest was related to staffing assignments and transfer policies, not working conditions.”
WantChina Times reported that 14 employees committed suicide, with many complaining about long work hours and discrimination.