Over 300 Xbox 360 manufacturers at a Foxconn Technology Group plant in Wuhan, China threatened mass suicide after being denied higher wages on Jan. 2, according to reports.
Foxconn, which manufactures well-known electronics such as video game consoles, has over a dozen factories in China. Reports say that on Jan. 2, the workers asked for a raise, but instead received an ultimatum: they could either continue to work at their current wage or quit and receive compensation. Most decided to go with the second option, but ended up never getting the compensation they were promised.
The next day, the workers took to the factory's roof, threatening to throw themselves off if they didn't receive the promised compensation. The workers' action got so much attention that it took the intervention of Wuhan's mayor Tang Liangzhi to talk the workers out of what they were doing, according to Kotaku. Eventually, Liangzhi got everyone to step off the roof around 9 p.m. on Jan. 3.
Kotaku also reports that the Web site Record China said the incident actually caused Xbox 360 production to be temporarily suspended.
ITProPortal reports that the current incident isn't the only run-in Foxconn has had with suicides. In 2010, over a dozen employees making Apple products took their own lives, which prompted much worldwide condemnation (though not much reduction in iPhone or iPad sales). Foxconn decided to prevent further suicides by attaching netting around some of their buildings. The company also created stress relief rooms where workers could relax or attack blow-up dummies.
Kotaku asked Microsoft in 2010 about Foxconn and the reported abuses. Microsoft's corporate vice president Phil Spencer responded at the time, Foxconn has been an important partner of ours and remains an important partner. I trust them as a responsible company to continue to evolve their process and work relationships. That is something we remain committed to-the safe and ethical treatment of people who build our products. That's a core value of our company.