While Sony might have used Japanese labourers to produce its PlayStation 3 console, it's outsourced that work to China for the PS4, using the always morally dubious facilities and work force of Foxconn, you know, the company that used 14 year old kids to produce iPhones and had several workers kill themselves over poor working conditions. Well wouldn't you know it, it looks like there's another worker scandal at Foxconn, as it's been using a university work program to coerce students to manufacturer the consoles.
According to the Games.qq (via Techinasia), thousands of students from the Xi'an Tehnological University were told that if they didn't take part in the “internship” program, they wouldn't receive their diploma. Leaving the program at any time would also cost you university credits.
The work given to the students was almost universally irrelevant to their fields of study and often required manual labour. Some specifically cited tasks include: putting stickers on the consoles, removing protective films, placing manuals and cables inside the boxes and moving pallet loads of consoles around by hand.
These jobs were performed throughout 11 hour days, with a meagre 30 minute lunch break and a ten minute break a some point in the morning. It should be noted also, that this is all happening at the same Factory where Foxconn was accused of hiring children to build its Wii U consoles back in 2012.
And none of them were paid anything.
Of course none of this should be surprising at this point. We've heard about Foxconn's indiscretions before, but back then it was about Apple products, or Microsoft products. Consistently this company fails to deliver solid working conditions, pay and environments for its work force and yet not only do companies around the world continue to make use of Foxconn's services, but people continue to buy the products that are produced by them. This is the case with lots of consumer items – almost every smartphone uses unethically obtained minerals from countries like Congo – but Foxconn is a very specific company with a very specific history of treating its employees poorly, some of whom have died in easily preventable accidents and others have been denied health care provision that they were legally entitled too because Foxconn jumped through hoops to find a way that it wouldn't have to provide it.
KitGuru Says: It's depressing how futile it is raging against this, because like everyone else we'll probably forget about this in a few days time. It's worth suggesting it though. If you guys were planning on buying a PS4, maybe just… don't? And if you take that brave step, tell Sony why you're not buying one. It probably won't help, but it will make you feel good.
At least until all your buddies are playing that Sony exclusive.