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Foxconn's school solicitation was further corroborated by a student intern who briefly worked at the Yantai factory in China, between August and September of this year, where he mentioned that teachers were under immense duress to get students to voluntarily sign up and work for Foxconn during their high-production periods. Of course, students can decline to work at Foxconn, but they lose credits necessary to graduate and don't receive their diploma.
If you're thinking that many of these students are required to get internships at these businesses because they're going into the field of electronics and manufacturing, think again. As reported by the Huffington Post (amongst countless others), many students who have no interest or long-term educational goals in the electronics field are still coerced into working the assembly line at Foxconn. Apparently applying thermal paste to the APU on a motherboard is equivalent to maintaining the books as a financial accountant.
Funnily enough, Boraid had previously reported that Foxconn was suffering a “Prisoner's Dilemma”, since workers no longer want to support the company for their inhumane mistreatment of employees. The shortage of workers has driven Foxconn to pillage the local schools for student interns – interns who work the same hours as the veteran workers, but at half or sometimes none of the standard wages.
Worse yet is that the students are subjected to harsh conditions, including working double 12 hour shifts with two hour breaks. Those on the Baidu forum and other social networks came forward to talk about just how harsh some of these conditions are, including standing for long hours of the day and sometimes bleeding from the cuts and scraps of working the assembly line all day.
Things continued to go downhill for some students, as it was noted by a floor manager in a Tiebu discussion that the conditions at Foxconn are especially hard on the young female interns; sometimes causing pre-menstral bleeding due to hard hours and stress of meeting production deadlines. These issues were escalated during late September, according to a former intern, since Sony had requested for Foxconn to ramp up production in order to meet the estimated holiday quotas.
Diary excerpts of a depressing nature surfaced on sites like Sina Finance, where you can read about what some of the daily routines were like for the 5,000 or so students who trudged through the 12 through 24 hour shifts; there were many reports of students fainting on the pipeline from a lack of rest, a lack of eating, were sick or were as “depressed" as the rainy "weather”.
If that wasn't bad enough, there were multiple reports of some of the female interns being raped on site at the Foxconn plant, as outlined in a horrifyingly detailed article on Games QQ from back in October. Of course, the hospitals downplayed the rape incidents to the local police as just “rumors”.
A Foxconn employee recently tried to calm the masses by saying that very few of the PS4 units fail to pass inspection and that he hasn't encountered any foul play at the Yantai plant in China, and tried dismissing any claims of sabotage or intern upheaval.
Right now there's just the words of tetchy students who have been put through some unpleasant ordeals while supposedly becoming “educated” in a real world working environment, and the loose language of corporate overseers trying to make this all go away.
On the upside, there are only 10% of Xbox One units being made at Foxconn, as reported by Digitimes.
If what Electronic Arts says is true about Sony and Microsoft shipping 10 million units by March, 2014, then that would mean that out of the 5 million or so Xbox One SKUs shipped within the quarter, more than 500,000 units are still in the hands of mistreated Foxconn interns.
I guess we'll find out if Microsoft suffers the same fate as Sony when the console launches this weekend. I, at least, have to give Microsoft credit for offloading majority of their load to Flextronics, as opposed to putting the brunt of their production needs (and money) into the hands Foxconn. It's not perfect, but it's a step in the right direction.
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