Microsoft's Explanation For What Caused Xbox 360 Factory Suicide Threats

Illustration for article titled Microsoft's Explanation For What Caused Xbox 360 Factory Suicide Threats

Earlier this week, Kotaku told you about how a large number of employees at a Foxconn factory in China had threatened mass suicide having been "denied compensation they were promised".


Microsoft assured us at the time that it would look into the matter, and has informed Kotaku that it has now completed "an independent investigation of this issue". How it managed this as the client company in question investigating a factory located in a country notorious for state secrecy and human rights violations I don't know, but here's what Microsoft told us.

Microsoft is one of many companies that contracts with Foxconn to manufacture hardware. Upon learning of the labor protest in Wuhan, we immediately conducted an independent investigation of this issue.

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. 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.

Microsoft takes working conditions in the factories that manufacture its products very seriously. 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.

This skips entirely over the original allegations, that the staff had asked for a raise and were instead told they could simply keep their jobs with no raise or resign and be compensated. They were allegedly protesting over the "not getting a raise" part, not the "keep it or leave it" part.

It also does not explain why staff would protest and threaten suicide over "regular production adjustments".

Outsourcing manufacturing to China may result in larger volumes of goods and cheaper costs, but it also leaves companies like Microsoft in the situation where they at first don't even know what's going on in factories making their goods, and then have to rely on what they're told by Foxconn employees and staff, words given the climate of fear and depression that exists in these factory cities have to be taken with more than a grain of salt.

(Top photo: China Jasmine Revolution / Kin Cheung | AP)



I hate to say this, but this article makes me think that these employees are using suicide as a bargaining tool which is rather pathetic. I am not saying that is the case in all cases of course. Some people just can't take the low pay and high work at their jobs and see no other way out sadly. But to threaten mass suicide over not getting a raise?? I don't fully understand that mentality. Perhaps someone can enlighten me on how "I want a raise, but if I don't get it I am going to kill myself, which in turn means I would make nothing and cease to exist".