Microsoft dismisses all Xbox R&D staff in China: Report

Microsoft is reportedly laying off its entire research and development team in Shenzhen, China, with few employees taking the payout currently being offered by Redmond.
Written by Liu Jiayi, Contributor

American technology company Microsoft continues to downsize its global workforce by dismissing more than 80 employees at its Xbox research and development (R&D) department in China, as Shenzhen Business News reported on October 31.

The company convened a quick full-staff meeting in the morning on the day before at its headquarters in Shenzhen, and made the sudden announcement of closing the branch and pulling it back to the US.

According to an anonymous employee who spoke to the newspaper, Microsoft didn't contact anyone beforehand, and its human resource managers started right after the Friday meeting to speak to the workers and offer them a severance package of about $2,560 plus one month's salary, a number that most people refused to accept.

More than 60 percent of the employed are agency labour, and their contracts are signed with a third-party company.

"Many of us did even did overtime last night," said the source. "But the entrance cards were dysfunctional when we came to office this morning. And the agency workers got their cards confiscated in the afternoon."

He also said that if the workers refuse to sign the dismissal agreement, Microsoft's legal department will be in touch with them directly and then "everything will be done in accordance with the Chinese laws", the Shenzhen newspaper reported. None of the employees have signed.

However, labour contract laws in China stipulate that if a company fires workers without due process, which includes giving notice to workers one month in advance, it shall pay in compensation the dismissed worker's monthly salary, multiplied by the numbers of years of service times two, as well as an extra two months' salary.

Microsoft set up its hardware centre in Asia in the south China city of Shenzhen in 2005, which has three departments: Xbox R&D, Surface R&D, and Surface production. All departments have been laying off employees since the beginning of 2014.

According to previous report published by state media Xinhua, the company said that it will fire as many as 3,000 workers in October to reach a bigger downsizing goal of cutting 18,000 jobs around the globe.

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