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Microsoft probes mass suicide threat at China plant

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Microsoft probes mass suicide threat at China plant

Post  Panda on Thu 12 Jan - 10:00

Microsoft probes mass suicide threat at China plant



By the CNN Wire Staff
January 12, 2012 -- Updated 0653 GMT (1453 HKT)






Students protest during Foxconn's annual general meeting in Hong Kong in June 2010.


STORY HIGHLIGHTS


  • NEW: 150 workers had protested at its Wuhan factory on January 4, Foxconn reports
  • NEW: 45 workers have since chosen to resign
  • Foxconn raised worker pay after a spate of suicides in 2010, Chinese media reported
  • Foxconn's China factories make electronics for Microsoft, Apple and other brands





Beijing (CNN) -- Microsoft is investigating a report
that workers at a Chinese plant that manufactures its Xbox game systems
have threatened mass suicide in a pay dispute, according to a statement
by the company's Hong Kong office.

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

CNN has not been able to confirm the full details of the dispute, but
Foxconn, the plant owner, and Microsoft did respond to inquiries.

The Chinese contractor acknowledged in a statement Thursday that 150 workers had protested at its Wuhan factory on January 4.

The incident, the company said, stemmed from a decision to transfer
all employees to an alternate production line. And though it was later
resolved "successfully and peacefully," 45 workers have since chosen to
resign.

"The welfare of our employees is our top priority and we are
committed to ensuring that all employees are treated fairly and that
their rights are fully protected," the company statement said.

Foxconn produces brand-name electronics for companies such as Microsoft and Apple.

A Microsoft spokeswoman later added that the controversy was derived
from employee grievances in "staffing assignments and transfer policies,
not working conditions."

Overheard: U.S. too dependent on foreign manufacturing

Foxconn apparently offered disgruntled workers the option to transfer
or resign, whereby they would receive "all salary and bonuses due,
according to length of service," said a Microsoft spokeswoman.

"After the protest, the majority of workers chose to return to work. A
smaller portion of those employees elected to resign," the statement
said.

Foxconn raised workers' pay twice at its factory in Shenzhen in 2010
after a spate of suicides, Chinese state media reported at the time.

"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's statement added.
"Microsoft is committed to the fair treatment and safety of workers
employed by our vendors and to ensuring conformance with Microsoft
policy."

After the 2010 suicides at Foxconn, the company said it was taking
measures to improve workers' lives, including organizing recreational
activities, calling in Buddhist monks to offer spiritual consolation and
setting up a 24-hour help line.

Foxconn, one of the world's top electronics manufacturers, also makes
products for companies such as Dell, Hewlett Packard and Sony.

It employed at estimated 800,000 employees in China in October 2010.

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