March 3, 2009

Wage cuts at Microsoft provoke protest

Temporary workers at Microsoft Corp. stood outside the company's headquarters Tuesday to protest wage cuts the U.S. software giant announced two weeks ago.

About 15 contracted workers stood at intersections in Redmond, Wash., to protest the 10 percent cut in wages, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.

Temporary jobs at Microsoft often last as long as a year. Workers said it was unfair for temporary staffing agencies to ask them to agree to wage cuts as many agreed to take the jobs when a higher wage was in place.

Staffing agencies, however, said the workers are employed at will, implying they would simply be replaced if they don't agree to the wage cut.

I think it's a really bad precedent that Microsoft is setting, software design engineer Twilight Wade -- employed at Microsoft through the Volt staffing agency -- told the newspaper.

What's the point of a contract if it's not honored? Wade asked.

Phil Palios, a temporary worker who organized the action, said he e-mailed 2,000 contracted workers to join the protest.

Although only 15 workers showed up to the first protest, he said he would continue his efforts.

Microsoft declined to comment, the newspaper said.