Microsoft investigates worker protest at Foxconn factory in China

Microsoft said the dispute did not involve working conditions, but staffing assignments

Microsoft investigated a workers protest at its contract manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group, and found that the dispute in Wuhan, China had nothing to do with working conditions, and was related to staffing assignments and transfer policies, the company said Thursday.

Last week, about 150 workers at a Foxconn factory in Wuhan protested by gathering above the rooftop of a building. The workers had threatened to jump off and commit suicide if Foxconn did not meet their compensation demands, according to Chinese media reports.

Microsoft said it had conducted its own investigation by talking with the workers and the Foxconn management. "It is our understanding that the worker protest was related to staffing assignments and transfer policies, not working conditions," the company said in a statement. "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."

Foxconn also said on Wednesday that the dispute arose after workers were told they would be transferred to another business unit because of a shift in production lines. 45 workers chose to voluntarily resign, while the rest decided to stay employed at the company, according to Foxconn.

Microsoft maintained that it monitors working conditions closely at Foxconn, and works to ensure the workers there are treated fairly. Both Microsoft and Foxconn did not say which Microsoft product is manufactured at the Wuhan factory.

Foxconn, which also manufactures products for Apple, Hewlett-Packard and others, faced a string of worker suicides in 2010 at the company's factories. This put Foxconn's working conditions under close scrutiny, prompting Apple to investigate.

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