Xbox 360 Assembly Line Workers Threaten Mass Suicide in China

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News Posted: Thu, Jan 12 2012 2:48 PM
Just in case you were looking a buzzkill after the chaotic euphoria wrought by CES, here it is: According to the Guardian, dozens of Foxconn workers in the city of Wuhan protested the company’s plan to close the Xbox 360 production line they worked on by threatening to jump from one of the six-story factory buildings. Indeed, a large number of workers stood atop the roof as Wuhan city personnel talked them down.

Foxconn planned to close down the line and either transfer those who worked there or pay them severance. Apparently, there was confusion among the ranks, as various sources said that Foxconn offered no severance (only transfers), that Foxconn initially offered severance but then backed out of the deal, and that no offer at all was made to some of the workers.

Workers threatening to commit mass suicide at the Wuhan factory

The official word from Foxconn, according to the article:
Foxconn said that it offered transfers to some workers at current pay, without elaborating on what others were offered. It said that 150 demanded severance and not all of them participated in the rooftop protest. "It is our understanding that certain individuals threatened to jump from the building if their demands were not met," the statement said.
In the end, just 45 workers left, with the rest opting to stay on with Foxconn.

Foxconn suicides are sadly nothing new; in the last couple of years, depressed or exasperated workers have flung themselves off of company buildings. Further, reports have circulated that the company hires underage workers, offers low pay, and maintains a strict, oppressive work environment that no American workers would stand for.

Wuhan city officials at the scene

In the end, thankfully, nobody actually leaped--the report indicated that it was more of a protest stunt than an actual threat of mass suicide--but the situation highlights the deep dysfunction in the factories that manufacture so much of the computer technology used around the world.
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AKwyn replied on Thu, Jan 12 2012 4:22 PM

These suicides keep on happening and the same thing is said everytime; Foxconn needs to get their act together. Glad to see a group of people standing against this BS.


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RTietjens replied on Thu, Jan 12 2012 4:24 PM

You know, the news *today* (12 Jan 2012) is that the issue was settled. Ergo, your headline is intended to grab pageclicks by stirring up emotion.

The article is factual enough, but the headline is pure yellow journalism.

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Inspector replied on Thu, Jan 12 2012 7:51 PM

Well the headline says threaten, not that they actually jumped. But like taylor said, they really need to get their acts together. U can't say one thing to the public and do the other on the inside.

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sackyhack replied on Thu, Jan 12 2012 8:24 PM

Have you read Microsoft's response? Basically they wanted better conditions and raises, but MS's "thorough" investigation decided that they were just confused about their option to "take it or leave it". Some got transferred, and some were given the privilege of leaving. So, yeah the headline misses the mark but I think the situation is probably still tense over there.

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omegadraco replied on Thu, Jan 12 2012 10:58 PM

FoxConn = fail. Hopefully Apple follows suit if enough of these companies gang up the working conditions will improve. Of course that will bring increased costs to consumers who will just need to suck it up and deal. People are more important than money.

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eunoia replied on Fri, Jan 13 2012 8:49 AM



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