Report: Hundreds Of Xbox Makers At Foxconn Plant Threatened Suicide

Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn has factories just about everywhere in the world, and they make stuff for just about every gadget company that you can think of. This makes any news coming out of the company, from 2010’s suicide cluster to last year’s explosion, fascinating to us. But it’s hard to look at your Xbox quite the same way after learning that hundreds of Foxconn workers reportedly took to the roof and threatened suicide over severance payments.

Accounts differ between anti-government news sources and Foxconn’s own press releases, but talks with the mayor of Wuhan and promise of either more pay or the promised severance payments got employees down off the roof.

Report: Mass Suicide Threats at Xbox 360 Plant [Kotaku]
Foxconn Resolves Pay Dispute With Workers [New York Times]

When A Mac Cultist Traveled To The Apple Factory
Your iPhone Comes From A Towering Fortress Of Secrecy And Paranoia
Three Workers Die In Explosion At Foxconn Factory


Edit Your Comment

  1. CTrees says:

    No picture for this article? I would have gone with the Red Ring of Death, personally.

  2. OSAM says:

    “But it’s hard to look at your Xbox quite the same way after learning that hundreds of Foxconn workers reportedly took to the roof and threatened suicide over severance payments.”

    Nope, not in the slightest.

    • nicless says:


      Nobody stopped buying Apple products because of the actual suicides so I don’t think Xbox users are worried about some pay dispute.

      • booboloo says:

        they have jobs…well most of them do, so boohoo. even if its true they should not be denied severance, that is the fault of the chinese government, not microsoft.

        china controls all, thus is responsible for all that happens within its borders. That is the bargain you make when you allow no freedom.

  3. Cat says:

    Damn. The place I’m working at would let us all jump.


  4. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    “The workers lept from the roof, causing a graphic scene as they impacted the pavement. The result was a gory circular patter, dubbed the red ring of death.”

  5. Coffee says:

    I’m almost beginning to feel as if products that don’t use Foxconn components should indicate so on the packaging – like cage-free eggs – so that people who are willing to pay a little more for a more humane product have the option.

    • QuantumCat says:

      I’d be incredibly curious to see what gadgets *didn’t* use Foxconn parts. It would be nice to know, I agree.

    • sweetgreenthing says:

      I would go out of my way not buy from Foxconn, they really should do labels.

      • gman863 says:

        Then stop using a PC. Foxconn parts are found in Dell, HP, eMachines and practically every other brand on the market.

      • Costner says:

        Silly. They are bigger so they get the press, but don’t think for a second the others don’t have the same issues.

        The only way you can avoid this is to not buy electronics. From anyone. Unless Curtis Mathis is still making TVs in the US.

        That said, many argue these “sweatshop-like” conditions are actually a step up from what the workers would have otherwise. The movement is in the right direction, so as bad as they have things compared to us, they are exponentially better than those who don’t even have employment options.

        • Bort says:

          But it doesn’t need to be this way, there is no law saying that you should treat workers as badly as possible and pay them subsistence wages or less. The organization is not failing because of high wages, the owners just want to further pad their pockets. Ironically it seems the higher the profit margin the more likely this is to occur, especially by those who consider workers to be worth less then garbage rather then as a profit generator.

    • bethshanin says:

      Who would cage an egg?

      (I don’t patronize bunny rabbits!)

    • jasvll says:

      This implies that FoxConn is an exception to the rule, in developing/3rd world production methods.

    • justhypatia says:

      Yeah, the problem is there would be basically nothing left to buy in the electronics world. The ultimate way to simplify your life I suppose.

      The other problem is assuming that Foxconn is the only one who has these problems of poorly paid and mistreated workers. What does it help to simply shift money to other companies that also abuse workers but we just don’t hear about it as much because they are smaller entities?

    • who? says:

      The problem is that many of the other suppliers are worse. By Chinese standards, Foxconn is relatively good.

      The manufacturing companies based inside Shenzhen proper are government approved and “generally” adhere to the Chinese labor laws, as bad as they are. There’s a much larger number of “illegal” companies outside of Shenzhen, that hire illegal migrant workers, and the working conditions there are much worse. You probably buy more stuff that’s made in those factories than you do from the legal ones. Everything from buttons to zippers (I couldn’t think of anything starting with A).

      • Coffee says:

        I guess I’m going to have to start only buying electronics that are marked “kosher”…at least then I’ll know that the workers killed themselves in sanitary conditions.

  6. Dont lump me into your 99%! says:


  7. conquestofbread says:

    In other news, all of the workers who threatened suicide and were talked down with the promise of compensation are now blacklisted by the Chinese labor board.

  8. coffee100 says:

    Because capitalism, pure capitalism, depends on a ready supply of underpaid and easily exploited workers, right? Once again, we turn to the facts:

    Between 1953 and 1973, when union membership was high in the United States, the average wage for the American worker doubled.

    Since 1973, it has dropped 16%. In fact, the inflation-adjusted wages for American workers, during the longest sustained productivity increase in human history, have remained stagnant for 39 years.

    It should also be noted that almost every major American invention in the 20th century came into being between 1950 and 1980.

    (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

    Prosperous workers are beneficial to the economy. This is unassailable fact.

    • Cat says:

      But… but… Unions are evil!

      (Okay, some of their shenanigans suck, but on the whole Yes, they are good for the American worker)

    • Darury says:

      And you’re alternative would be the shiny happy world where everyone does their fair share of labor based on their ability?

      As much as “pure” capitalism might suck, the alternative are many, many times worse.

    • nicless says:

      Ok, say everyone in America joins a Union. YAY!

      The people of China are not helped by this one bit. In fact, manufacturing (which mostly isn’t done in America anymore anyway) now has even more reason to stay or go to China.

    • nbs2 says:

      Average wage doubling – I have no reason to believe you, but I have no reason not to. I’ll give you this one

      Average wage dropping 16%? Is this an nominal or inflation-adjusted? I’d call you out for nominal, would like to see a citation for inflation adjusted, along with numbers calculating cost of living. Nevertheless, you are suggesting that productivity has been sustained or increased in the period since 1973 – to what would you attribute this as it runs counter to your final statement.

      Major inventions in the period between 1950 and 1980? I’d like to see evidence of such, along with the union membership status of each of those inventors (I will give credit for actual inventors if management was the listed inventor). Additionally, what percentage of those inventions were created without a significant influx of capital? Also, what was the ratio of capital invested in productive inventions to the total capital invested in all inventions (both successful and failures, including designs and prototypes that never advanced)?

      I do agree with your final point about prosperity and doubt anybody would agree with you.

    • gman863 says:

      There is a not-so-fine line between the benefits a union gives workers and the havoc it wrecks on a country’s economy.

      The UAW is a classic example. Although they initially were a positive factor in eliminating inhumane and unsafe working conditions at Ford and other American automakers, their greed resulted in a 40-year downslide of the US automotive industry culminating with the bankruptcy of GM and Chrysler.

      For decades, the “it’s not my job” union mentality resulted in almost nonexistant quality control on the assembly lines. By the time the Asian philosophy of any worker having the power to stop the assembly line to correct a defect was adopted by the unions, the substandard quality reputation of American auto manufacturers was firmly etched in consumers’ brains.

      There is also an issue of what truly constitutes a “fair” wage. While I agree auto workers should receive a “living” wage, the average pay of UAW workers in the past was well beyond “fair”. A high-school grad whose sole job is turning a wrench does not deserve the same (or higher) pay as a teacher or RN who spent years in college (usually at their own expense) learning their trade. On top of this, the UAW went overboard on paying almost every dime of members’ health care costs, creating a financial Ponzi scheme.

      • snowmentality says:

        By the time the Asian philosophy of any worker having the power to stop the assembly line to correct a defect was adopted by the unions

        By the unions? It wasn’t the union who would fire you if you stopped the line.

        When GM started trying to implement that model throughout the company, it was plant managers who didn’t like it and refused to implement it. Apparently there were a few cases where the union didn’t like it either, but management had more to do with the failure of that model.

        I’m not trying to say the UAW never screwed things up, but I really don’t think you can blame them for this one.


    • Actionable Mango says:

      Your simplistic view forgets that globalization happened and that third world countries can actually make nice stuff now.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      “…the average wage for the American worker doubled.”

      A big part of that was a) Lack of foreign competition and b) The USA was the industrial supplier to the post-war world. It could also be argued that the high wages also lead to industries not modernizing their plants or processes and that’s why they were completely decimated in the 70’s & 80’s. The decline of the 70’s likely also would have happened earlier if it weren’t for the Vietnam War propping up heavy industry. Even before the 70’s, industry was already leaving the northeast and midwest and opening up shop in non-union plants in the south.

      My Dad worked at the Homestead Works and made enough to support his family, provide us with health care, a house, and a decent quality of life in Pittsburgh. Unions or no unions, I doubt we’ll ever see the return to prosperity which we saw in that era. A return to union labor, with high wages, pensions, and great health care isn’t going to make us any more competitive against a 3rd world worker working for pennies, in unsafe conditions, in factories with no pollution controls.

    • shepd says:

      And after 1973, companies went out of business when unions bullied them.

      Case in point, the factory my dad worked in. The union got line jobs up to $40 an hour in 2000. They’d been running with these ridiculous wages since the 50’s. At the time there was no issue with car manufacturing in Canada. Yet they went bust. The union had a strike for weeks. Then the company folded. They released the data shortly after. The company had been in the red for over two decades and their number one cost was wages.

      Many of those workers are now working at a nearby seating manufacturer (unionized) making $18-20 an hour in 2011.

      If the union had permitted the company to pay $25 an hour in 2000, based on their books, they’d have been in the black and no employees would have been let go.

      You tell me how the union benefited those workers. My dad was one of them. The union has even been so “generous” that for retired employees such as my dad who were guaranteed lifetime health benefits… …well… ooops! No more money in that either. He got a payout of the remaining cash. There’s questions as to whether the pension fund is running out as well, now.

      But hey, unions are great and don’t harm companies at all.

  9. Cosmo_Kramer says:

    I’m impressed that you didn’t make this article about Apple.

  10. rockelscorcho says:

    The Suicide angle doesn’t work. It’s best to say “just do it.” let’s see what happens. the most you’ll have to deal with is hiring new employees.

  11. smhatter says:

    I thought a read an article about them having installed a suicide net anyway (since this isn’t the first time people have thrown themselves off the roof).

  12. INsano says:
  13. gman863 says:

    Although I don’t doubt the accuracy of the story, my question is, “What the HELL were they thinking?”

    During my life, I have had a few jobs where the overall working conditions were so bad it threw me into a state of (non-suicidal) depression. The solution: START LOOKING FOR A BETTER JOB.

    China’s economy is in far better shape than the US. If the conditions at Foxconn are this unbearable, there have to be other employment options available to these workers.

    • Earl Butz says:

      “China’s economy is in far better shape than the US.”

      No, it is not, not even close. I could write a book on just how cooked their books are, but I don’t have the time, and at any rate we’re all about to find out sooner rather than later.

      “If the conditions at Foxconn are this unbearable, there have to be other employment options available to these workers.”

      It’s called “freedom” and they don’t have it. You need both permission from your current employer and the local authorities to leave a job and seek another.

      I love China and have been doing business with Chinese companies for almost 20 years. It’s a neat place. But I wouldn’t live there for all the tea in…well, you know.

      • Cor Aquilonis says:

        Really? Because the TV tells me that China is a capitalist utopia and the U.S. is a socialist hellhole. And the TV is entirely trustworthy.

  14. StarKillerX says:

    So is this a different group then in the story just a couple days ago? The numbers involved are different, and this says MS instead of Apple but I’m curious if this is the same group and/or story or if all Foxconn workers are starting their negotiations on the roofs of their plants?

  15. dicobalt says:

    It’s illegal to protest in China.
    It’s illegal to strike in China.
    It’s not illegal to threaten suicide in China.

    • Round-Eye §ñ‰∫∫„ÅØ„Ç≥„É≥„Çπ„Éû„É™„ÉÉ„Çπ„Éà„ÅåÂ•Ω„Åç„Åß„Åô„ÄÇ says:

      Yet. Although, the punishment for threatening suicide will probably be death. So, yeah.

  16. ridgerat says:

    OK, so you threaten suicide. Now get back to work.

  17. Doubting thomas says:

    But I thought apple was the only evil electronics manufacturer and all other Foxcann factories and other chinese factories were full of rainbows and unicorns.

  18. ldillon says:

    I have to wonder what it would add to the cost of an Xbox to double the wages of the workers? $5?

  19. ldillon says:

    Atrocious working conditions seem to go hand-in-hand with industrial revolution. I suggest you read “Life in the Iron Mills” for a taste of what America’s industrial revolution was like.

    It’s just harder to sweep this under the rug with the advent of the Internet.