Foxconn settles with workers who threatened mass suicide

The company says 150 of its workers were involved in the protest, of whom 45 apparently resigned rather than take the deal.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Employees at a Foxconn factory in Wuhan, China, some of whom reportedly threatened to kill themselves over a wage and working-conditions dispute, have instead come to an agreement with the manufacturer.

Foxconn, which makes products for Apple, Microsoft, and others, said today that it had reached a deal with the protesting employees, the NYT reported. Most of those workers will return to work, although Foxconn also said that 45 workers involved in the dispute had resigned.

Earlier this month, workers at Foxconn's Xbox factory in China grew disgruntled after their requests for pay raises were denied. On January 2, the employees reportedly said they would stage a mass suicide--by jumping off the roof of the factory--if their demands were not met.

Microsoft took the threats seriously and immediately launched an internal investigation into the matter. Although that investigation is still ongoing, the company announced what Foxconn reiterated today, telling CNET that a deal had been reached.

"It is our understanding that the worker protest was related to staffing assignments and transfer policies, not working conditions," a Microsoft representative told CNET yesterday. "Due to regular production adjustments, Foxconn offered the workers the option of being transferred to alternative production lines or resigning and receiving all salary and bonuses due, according to length of service. After the protest, the majority of workers chose to return to work. A smaller portion of those employees elected to resign."

Over the last two years, at least 16 Foxconn employees have committed suicide in the company's Shenzhen, China factory. Three other workers attempted to kill themselves at the factory. Those deaths have prompted the company to say that it will install "suicide nets" around the factory to discourage employees from jumping from buildings. Foxconn has also offered some workers a 20 percent wage increase to improve morale.