Chinese Microsoft staff protest 'hostile' takeover of Nokia unit, 'violent' job cuts

Microsoft employees belonging to the firm's Nokia handset arm have taken to the streets in China, protesting against job losses deemed "hostile" and "violent."
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft employees belonging to Nokia's division in Beijing have held another day of protests against job cuts following the Redmond giant's takeover of the handset unit.

The protests originally attracted hundreds of Microsoft employees, and according to MarketWatch, the second day of protests was held by almost 100 members of staff at Yizhuang industrial park. China's state media reported Sunday that Microsoft plans to cut 4,700 jobs from the Beijing-based unit, which will leave staff numbers of approximately 300, a steep drop from the unit's current staffing levels of 5,000.

Protesters say that Microsoft has broken its promise not to cut jobs within the first year following the acquisition of the Nokia handset division in April. The deal, agreed upon for $7.2 billion, transferred Nokia's handset unit to Microsoft, and also gives the tech giant access to Nokia's patent portfolio for ten years.

China National Radio (CNR) reported on Sunday that in addition to the layoffs, staff are protesting due to "inappropriate" compensation. According to the plan, staff laid off are entitled to two months' salary plus a month's pay for each year worked at the company. However, Nokia staff members told CNR that those who do not sign the plan will be fired, which could be in breach of Chinese labor laws.

Protesters outside the Beijing handset research and development center held slogans which accuse Microsoft of instigating a "hostile" takeover and "violent" layoffs. Reuters sources say the first wave of protest went on for approximately five hours until the protestors "had sore throats" from shouting.

On July 17, Microsoft said up to 18,000 jobs will be cut across the globe. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said 12,500 of the jobs will be associated with the Nokia handset group. The first wave will hit approximately 13,000 employees, and the majority of employees affected by the trimming of its workforce will be notified within the next six months. Jobs lost include both skilled and factory roles.

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