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The international discussion of what's happening on the assembly lines that have led to PlayStation 4 units landing on the doorsteps of customers dead on arrival, has caused quite the stir. One student recently posted an apology to the public, letting it be known that the students didn't intend to damage the PS4 units on the assembly line, but the working conditions were hard enough on them to force a loss of quality on the product.
Many of the Foxconn workers and students frequent a Tieba.Baidu forum to discuss various topics. One of the recent topics follows suit from a post where one of the fitting inspectors on the PS4 line came to the defense of Foxconn workers, noting that he had encountered very few faulty units and that he did not experience or come across any PS4 units subject to the “sabotage” that has been rumored, following the inflammatory comments made by several students back in August.
The student and former intern at Foxconn posted a thread entitled “I'm sorry, I'm not the workers, I'm just a student“. He apologizes on behalf of the students due to many of the faulty PS4 units that have cropped up in the public eye, and how some reports point to purposed sabotage from Foxconn workers getting back at the company for their employee mistreatment.
He proceeds to explain that he worked two months at Foxconn between August and September and that while he was there, no one intentionally went out of their way to sabotage the PS4, but the quality of production rapidly decreased as worker moral dropped and many of the interns suffered from being overworked, thus resulting in lots of production errors.
He notes that he, along with many other students, voluntarily joined Foxconn; many of them – even while knowing full well about the so-called horror stories of Foxconn – joined to make extra money. A lot of students want cell phones, televisions, video game systems, etc., and the only way to earn any extra money is to work at Foxconn, which is why the company is so reviled and yet people clutter at the entry gates of the plant every day to work through the grueling hours.
Going by the handle of “Are Sad” or roughly “I Am Sad”, he writes...
“Before going, we would have outsize Foxconn's name, to be honest, nobody wanted to go. But they had to go, for reasons[...]
He reiterates that the work hours are hard, but many of the interns show a lot of verve in the early goings of the production cycle. However, he also notes that “shipments increased day by day” and that with only two weeks of training, many of the interns were ill-prepared for the amount of work that faced them as demand grew and Sony required more units to meet consumer demand, something they're beginning to specialize in, as reported by Logistics Viewpoint.
"Are Sad" goes on to say that...
“...sometimes, when you install the motherboard, because my heart felt useless, with the effort will be great, when the screw has been screwed to the board slightly deform[ed],,,, and then later, listening to other students say [they're] install[ing] a hard-line [it's] even more brutal. That is a hard disk or flash memory[?] in the end I really do not know. I did not [know] 360 [or] ps1234”
He writes that September was especially rough, and after September 15th, it was a bit much for him to bear. He says that the “enthusiasm” of the students had reached its lowest point and that working the line caused the quality of production and, subsequently, the inspection process to wane. Another user chimed in and noted that usually when this happens the workers grow so tired they make many errors on the line, sometimes deliberately and sometimes unintentionally.
After the two months, “Are Sad” decided it was time to part ways with Foxconn; even though he still wanted to make money, he felt the clarity of his “heart” was more important...
“90% of students want to earn a little more or less money to buy a computer or buy a cell phone also, or as Paoniu fund. The result is that the class [...] most people agreed. At this point, I snapped,”
Many users asked how he was able to get out of Foxconn without falling into financial straits. “Are Sad” claims his father runs a sports bar, and while he's not wealthy, his family isn't dirt poor, either.
Some accused him of supporting Foxconn by even volunteering to work there, while others claimed that his story was made up and that he should provide proof to verify that everything he said is legit. While it was a sound form of reasoning on behalf of the other users, “Are Sad” declined to show his student ID, opposite of the Foxconn employee who was willing to answer questions about the company and the PS4 assembly process.
According to “Are Sad”, he didn't want any of the authorities to spot his ID and he didn't want to get into any trouble, as they had recently been inspecting student IDs in his area for an undisclosed reason. The users instructed him to cross out his eyes, mouth and name in the photo, but he declined.
What's interesting, though, is that according to “Are Sad”, he claims that it's not all Foxconn being evil and bringing in young kids just to be a big bad corporation. According to him, Foxconn gets a lot of support from the schools in the surrounding area but he was unsure how much financial support they actually receive. This assertion is, in fact, true.
Many of the schools that work with Foxconn in providing the company with interns are in cahoots with the manufacturing giant, and so long as it benefits the parties involved, it's unlikely to change. This sad turn of events was outlined and detailed in a report by China Daily. Nevertheless, "Are Sad" stated that the teachers from participating schools are under a lot of pressure to get student interns working at Foxconn.
In another thread, a floor manager at Foxconn allegedly claimed that the teachers are getting a cut of the student wages (potentially why they only make half of what normal employees make). Nevertheless, the schools promote the internships because of Foxconn's scholarship program, which in turn, helps out the schools financially. Many teachers are in a tight bind because of this. However, “Are Sad” notes that all interns are there voluntarily, even despite the fact that sometimes they “choose” to be there out of coercion due to having their diplomas and scholarships withheld if they decide not to participate, as reported by Kotaku.
“Are Sad” notes that to fix the quality of production at some of their plants, Foxconn moves employees around in an attempt to get the most out of the human machine, writing...
“Although the quality problem has been revealed, but still nothing changed. I hear that many students are forced to go Zhucheng Fukuda, Fukuda Weifang Weifang GoerTek”
Another user made it known that in this situation “there are no absolutes” and that some students may have tried to retaliate under the strenuous working conditions by sabotaging PS4 units. He also noted that Foxconn, in a way, is only meeting the demand of consumers the world around, and they are, after all, just a business.
“Are Sad”, however, made one of his more final posts a significant one that tied back into the thread's title, humbly writing...
“...the consumer is the most innocent. I can not represent other people, I can only say to you in a personal capacity I am sorry. Beyond that, I can do nothing.”
The alleged claims of sabotage will require a thorough investigation by Sony and Foxconn. For now, it appears as if some of the workers just want to be cast out of the spotlight, and potentially avoid any further burden than the one they already carry while working at Foxconn.