Foxconn, the top technology independent contractor in the world, has settled a dispute with a multitude of employees, who threatened with mass suicide to protest low pay and dismal working conditions at its Wuhan factory in China.
Taiwan-based Foxconn is best known as a supplier for some major tech companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and more. The company said the week-long conflict has ended peacefully - most of the protesting employees will return to work, while 45 of them resigned.
The official statement the company released on Jan. 12 read that after the negotiations with the company and local government officials, most of the protestors accepted the proposed terms.
The details of the terms are unclear. One the them told New York Times that they had been promised additional compensation.
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, Foxconn said in the statement.
Right after the new year, the workers at Foxconn's Wuhan factory in China became extremely critical of their low wage and bad working conditions. They staged a mass protest on Jan. 2 and demanded that if the company doesn't raise their pay, they will jump off the roof of the factory.
More than 100 out of 32,000 workers at the Wuhan campus went to the rooftop of a three-story campus building to protest, which had lasted eight hours, New York Times reported, citing an anonymous worker.
Some of them threatened to commit suicide if their demands weren't met, he said. That day was very cold, the worker recalled. Some women could not stand the freezing temperatures and fainted.
After Microsoft came to know the situation, the company launched an internal investigation into the matter at once.
It is our understanding that the worker protest was related to staffing assignments and transfer policies, not working conditions, a Microsoft representative told CNET.
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 added.
One protesting worker told New York Times on telephone that when they moved from Shenzhen to Wuhan, they were promised about $450 pay a month, including overtime pay. However, they only got about a third less. Moreover, they had to endure the bad working conditions in Wuhan.
In the past two years, employees of Foxconn, which makes the iPhone, iPad, the Amazon Kindle and the Microsoft Xbox, were under tremendous working pressure and severe stress. A rash of suicides took place accordingly. No less than 16 employees committed suicide in the company's Shenzhen plant, while three more attempted suicide but were rescued.
Foxconn has now install suicide nets around the buildings at factory to prevent the employees from killing themselves by jumping off the buildings. The company was also forced to implement a 20 percent wage hike for some workers. Recently, the company also began using robots to do some complicated and difficult work, instead of using employees.