While Foxconn facilities manufacturing Apple products might have drawn the most ire from the world at large in the past couple of years for the way the employees are treated, it looks like those making Nintendo parts have also been cutting corners – by using underage workers.
Foxconn has apparently confirmed the recent report by Chinese site Games QQ, that the Yantai factory used interns aged between 14 and 16 to work overtime shifts to get the Wii U finished on time. These aren't paid placements or work experience however, but “forced” internships, where students are taken from secondary technical schools in the Jiangsu Province and made to work in these facilities. While they can technically leave whenever they want, it's been reported that students were threatened with receiving no course credit if they fail to perform the work and may even be expelled.
Some of the quotes translated over at Kotaku paint a grubby picture of the kids' working environment: “I did transport work, helping them move goods,” said 14 year-old Xiao Wang (alias). “Right now, the night shift is 7:40 PM until the morning… you know, til what time in the morning is uncertain. Whenever the work is done is when you get off your shift. If you don't finish the work, he (the production line foreman) won't let you end your shift. Usually, you can get off by 7 AM. My arms would hurt from the work.”
Nintendo has yet to release a statement on this matter, though Foxconn has admitted as part of an internal investigation that students between the ages of 14 and 16 were being used in the manufacturing process. However, it didn't condone the practice, stating to Bloomberg that if anyone was found to be using underage labour in its facilities, that those responsible would be immediately fired.
KitGuru Says: This instance is far from the first time that Foxconn has been implicated in a scandal over its working conditions, though its' the first time that children have been confirmed as being employed. Despite this, companies like Apple and Nintendo keep giving it manufacturing work.
Ultimately, do stories like this make you guys any less likely to buy Apple, Foxconn or Nintendo products?