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Plugged In

Workers stage mass suicide threat at Xbox manufacturing plant

Plugged In

A group of Chinese workers that make the Xbox 360 are unhappy with their jobs. Really unhappy.

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Foxconn Technology (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Roughly 150 employees of a Foxconn Technology plant in Wuhan, China threatened mass suicide earlier this month in protest of job transfers. No workers followed through with the threat, though 45 did ultimately decide to quit, reports The New York Times.

At issue was a decision to transfer all employees to an alternate production facility. Workers insist they were initially offered severance pay if they chose not to relocate, but that Foxconn later backed out of that promise. Foxconn says they made no such severance promise in the first place.

The angered workers climbed to the roof of a six-story factory dormitory and threatened to leap off. Eventually Wuhan city officials were able to talk them down.

Foxconn, the world's largest contract electronics manufacturer says the dispute has since been resolved.

"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," the company said in a statement.

Microsoft says it has conducted an independent investigation of the incident and remains comfortable with its relationship with the company.

"Microsoft takes working conditions in the factories that manufacture its products very seriously," the company said in a statement. "We have a stringent Vendor Code of Conduct that spells out our expectations, and we monitor working conditions closely on an ongoing basis and address issues as they emerge. Microsoft is committed to the fair treatment and safety of workers employed by our vendors and to ensuring conformance with Microsoft policy."

Suicide threats might seem a drastic way of complaining about your job, but they've proven unfortunately common at Foxconn. More than a dozen workers took their own lives in 2010 at the factory, which also manufactures devices for Apple, Dell, HP and Sony.

At the time of those deaths, the company (which employs roughly 800,000 people) vowed to take action to make the lives of its workers better. Among those steps was organizing recreational activities, offering spiritual consolation and setting up a 24-hour help line.

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