Skip to main content

Brutal Nokia job culls poison Microsoft's relationship with China, employees stage protest

Microsoft's Nokia phone business is under the global spotlight after "hundreds" of Chinese employees staged a protest against the mass layoffs that the workforce suffered last month.

According to an employee present at the protest (who refused to be identified) and numerous pictures posted on social media, protesters waved banners and shouted slogans for five hours until "they had sore throats."

Some of the protestor signs condemned "Microsoft's hostile takeover and violent layoffs," referring to Microsoft's recent acquisition of Nokia in April that has led to a series of changes at the mobile phone manufacturer.

Read more: Microsoft announces biggest job cuts since 2009

These culminated on July 17 as Microsoft enacted its plans to cull the largest swathe of jobs in its 39-year history. Of the 18,000 employees axed, 12,500 of these came from Nokia.

When Microsoft and Nokia inked the acquisition deal for $7.2 billion, the arrangement was a friendly one. However, these Beijing protests mark the latest in a string of troubles for the US software behemoth in China.

This week, Microsoft offices across four cities were raided by Chinese authorities as part of an ongoing anti-monopoly investigation.

Read more: New Nokia business strategy binds the company to Microsoft's vision

This year has also seen a rise of labour disputes across China, as the world's number two economy slows.

Still, Microsoft could argue that the cuts did not come without warning. Upon taking up the mantle of Microsoft CEO in February, Satya Nadella made clear his plans to slim down his company to compete with more agile Internet-based rivals.

The cuts have siphoned off around 14 per cent of Microsoft's worldwide workforce, and for now the rest of the company appears safe.