When one company decides to climb into the bed with another company, you better know beforehand whether or not their dirty diseases from bad practices and poor habits won't be spreading around to you. That's what happened recently when the always dirty Foxconn was busted once again for child labor violations in regards to meeting production demands for Nintendo's upcoming Wii U. But Foxconn isn't to blame for this, Nintendo is.
First off, Foxconn has been rotten for a while now. Reports have been surfacing since before 2010 about their low-down dirty behavior that resulted in several reported suicides, which caused some journalists to go undercover and find out just how bad it was working at the manufacturing giant's plants, as reported by Engadget.
The thing is, Foxconn has been getting away with a lot of stuff until journalists started scrutinizing the mega-corporation's antics and practices. It wasn't as if this stuff started in 2010, there were reports surfacing since 2009, as reported by CNET and the Telegraph, amongst many others. It's anyone's guess how many under-the-table ordeals have been transpiring at Foxconn since its founding in the mid 1970s, but I'm glad this sort of stuff is coming into the light with greater frequency and general vigilance.
Now, Nintendo has been eying Foxconn as a business partner for a while, since mid 2011, after initially announcing the Wii U at E3 last June. While there were some facts that managed to get mangled and lost in translation, it became apparent that the “next-gen” console rumored to be in manufacturing by Foxconn was actually the Wii U, as speculated by many readers. Nevertheless, the news about the employee suicides had already become apparent back in May of 2010, so there was more than a year of this going on for Nintendo to take this manufacturing gig into consideration before signing any pre-release contracts.
As we continue to journey down one of the filthy brownish-green sewer pipes that only Mario would brave, we land on this next bit of insightful information: Back in 2010, one of the Foxconn factories in Mexico was on the receiving end of a rather devilish scheme. The company purposefully held up its own workers on a transport bus just so that they would arrive late for work and the company could use that as an excuse to forfeit paying them overtime for the extra work they had to do to make up for being late. Yes, Foxconn stooped that low. You can check that little story out over at Gizmodo.
What's worse is that throughout this entire year Foxconn has repeatedly come under fire in the news. Apple had originally hired the Fair Labor Association to investigate claims of underpaid and overworked employees at Foxconn's plants back in March of this year, as reported by the BBC, when claims of employee abuse began bubble to surface...again.
Back in August of this year Apple had received word that employee treatment at Foxconn plants had increased substantially and less than 3% of workers were being mistreated, overworked or underpaid. As reported by Bloomberg, Foxconn was tagged with having to correct more than 284 changes after more than 50 violations were leveled against them.
Again, all of this is well before the child labor incident that recently occurred at the Foxconn plant responsible for churning out the Wii U. Foxconn's excuse for using kids was that they were falling behind in manufacturing demand and they needed workers to fill out the ranks. Ah, there's nothing like threatening kids and any potential future education unless they work overtime churning out overpriced products for first-world customers. Capitalism at its finest.
However, I don't even blame Foxconn for this anymore...I blame Nintendo. We can expect Foxconn from here on out to do everything dirty under the sun that they can, but Nintendo should know better. Foxconn has been doing this kind of crap for years. Nintendo knew they were stepping into a bed of thorns with a corporate succubus, yet Reggie and the gang did so without a second thought. I'm sure the execs were thinking "Cheap manufacturing, an overpriced console and lots of hungry consumers equals instant success". It probably looked like a perfect way to stay in the black throughout the entire holiday season and keep operating costs to a minimum to round out an otherwise lackluster year.
Nintendo isn't the only culprit in this mess, though. Foxconn services Apple and their iDevices, Sony and the PlayStation brand, Microsoft and the Xbox 360, as well as plenty of other top-name brands. Nintendo just-so-happened to be the unlucky corporate sucker caught with their pants down and their latest protuberant product stuffed firmly up between the legs of underage workers.
Now, Nintendo has mentioned that they'll be investigating the matter but we all know this means that they'll do whatever they can PR wise to just make this go away. Just like in the past few years, all those previous investigations into Foxconn's filthy little habits hasn't turned the devil away from dancing under a black moon.
It's a tough call to make as a consumer because we don't have a whole lot of choice in the matter. Gamers shouldn't have to get involved with the corporate politics that dictates how and when we get to have fun, but at the same time young kids didn't ask to be shuffled out to a factory with their education and livelihood threatened by corporate boogeymen if they don't do what they're told. If that makes you queasy, you're still human.
Oh yeah, and have you heard this joke: How many 14-year-old Chinese kids does it take to screw together a Wii U? I wouldn't know, but you can ask Nintendo.