Technology brand Microsoft has launched an inquiry into the mass suicide protest that occurred in the Chinese province of Hubei last week.
Foxconn Technology Group, an independent Taiwanese manufacturer that makes products for some of the largest companies in the world including Microsoft, Apple, and Dell and has come under fire before for working conditions at its factories.
“Microsoft takes working conditions in the factories that manufacture its products very seriously, and we are currently investigating this issue,” a spokesperson for the company told the Huffington Post U.K.
“We have a stringent Vender Code of Conduct that spells out our expectations, and we monitor working conditions closely on an ongoing bases and address issues as they emerge,” the spokesperson added.
The mass suicide protest occurred last week with around 300 Foxconn employees working at a Wuhan factory participating in the demonstration reportedly over a claim that the factory did not pay wages owed to former employees.
According to reports from Chinese media, a dispute arose when workers at the Chinese plant demanded higher wages. The company reportedly declined but offered compensation to those who chose to leave the company.
Apparently, the promised compensation never arrived and angry workers stormed the roof of the Foxconn building threatening to jump if their former colleagues were not justly compensated.
The incident caused a factory wide shutdown.
Foxconn came under fire in 2010 over a string of suicides at Chinese factories that captured world headlines. In 2010 alone, 14 suicides occurred at just one of the company’s 13 plants in the rapidly developing country.
Controversy emerged due to the wages and working conditions that Chinese laborers where enduring at the plants that produce some of the world’s most notable technological devices.
Following the 2010 suicides, students took to the streets to protest the conditions of factory workers carrying signs against the mistreatment of workers.
“Workers are not machines. They have self-esteem,” one sign read.
Foxconn responded to the shocking suicides by increasing wages at the plant, asking employees to sign no-suicide pledges and installing netting around the factory to prevent workers from jumping to their death.
However, according to recent research, the conditions at Foxconn’s Chinese factories are still subpar.
Mike Daisey, an author and actor, shared his experience visiting a Foxconn Chinese factory on the weekly public radio show, "This American Life."
Daisey described his visit to a plant in Shenzhen, which alone employees around 430,000 workers.
At the plant, Daisey met employees as young as 12 years old, workers who worked 36-hour shifts, and workers who had lost limbs and been injured on the job but continued to work.
“This is like nothing we’ve seen in a century,” Daisy said in his audio in which he ultimately questions how detail oriented companies, like Apple, could miss the shocking realities behind the details of their products.