Foxconn protests: workers reportedly threatened suicide


A participant (L) wearing a mask of Apple CEO Steve Jobs and holding a model of an Ipad takes part in a protest against Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn, which manufactures Apple products in China, outside an Apple retail outlet in Hong Kong on May 7, 2011.


Antony Dickson

Suicide threats may be the newest, most desperate bargaining chips for Chinese employees of electronics giant Foxconn.

Multiple Chinese media outlets have reported that in a recent Foxconn protest in Wuhan, more than 100 factory workers took to the roof of the building and threatened to jump unless their demands for better pay and working conditions were met. The Foxconn factory is believed to make the XBox360 for Microsoft, although Foxconn doesn't generally disclose what it makes at which locations. Chinese media reports say the workers came down off the roof when bosses agreed to better compensation, but the cash hasn't yet materialized.

Suicide is an especially potential threat for Foxconn, the Taiwan-based electronics giant that makes components for all the world's major tech brands. In 2010, the company came under global media scrutiny when at least a dozen workers plunged off the roof its Shenzhen factory to their deaths. In the months since, Foxconn has  dramatically reduced its staff in Shenzhen and built new factories around China. Workers have complained about new issues as a result, including forced relocation and reduced pay.