Microsoft Xbox assembly workers threaten suicide in China labor dispute

“Dozens of workers assembling Xbox video game consoles climbed to a factory dormitory roof, and some threatened to jump to their deaths, in a dispute over job transfers that was defused but highlights growing labor unrest as China’s economy slows,” The Associated Press reports.
“The dispute was set off after contract manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group announced it would close the assembly line for Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360 models at its plant in the central city of Wuhan and transfer the workers to other jobs, workers and Foxconn said Thursday,” AP reports. “Workers reached by telephone said Foxconn initially offered severance pay for those who wanted to leave rather than be transferred, but then reneged, angering the workers; Foxconn, in a statement, disputed that account, saying only transfers were offered, not severance.”

AP reports, “The workers climbed to the top of the six-story dormitory on Jan. 3 and threatened to jump before Wuhan city officials persuaded them to desist and return to work, according to the workers and accounts online. The workers gave varying estimates of the numbers involved in the strike, from 80 to 200, and photos posted online showed dozens of people crowding the roof of the boxy concrete building.”

“The fracas is the latest labor trouble to hit Foxconn, a unit of Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. that makes iPads and iPhones for Apple Inc. as well as Xboxes and other gadgets, helping consumer electronics brands hold down costs,” AP reports. “Its massive China plants are run with military-like discipline, which labor rights activists say contributed to spate of suicides in 2010.”

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