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Foxconn. Does that name ring a bell? They produce parts for a wide variety of electronics sold all throughout the world. Some of their partners include Sony, Samsung, Apple and Nintendo. Well, in light of the recent scandal that underage kids were found working at Foxconn plants to produce electronics, it turns out that Apple's iPhone 5 wasn't the only product caught in the production cross-hairs of the child labor investigation.
Ever since the iPhone 5 has launched and news has circulated about a lack of availability for the phones, Apple has been under pressure to amp up supplies to meet the demands. This meant having their supplier, Foxconn, produce more iPhones faster and of higher quality in a shorter amount of time. The strict requirements turned hazardous as workers already pinned to trudge through 16-hour work shifts and living out of small dormitories located on the Foxconn site, revolted against the company with a violent strike that injured 40 people, as reported by the UK Mirror.
What's more is that Foxconn workers only make about £230 a month, which isn't even enough to afford to buy one of the products they're tasked with making.
Well, the above scenario is for their average workers. But what a lot of people didn't know is that their non-average workers include underage kids working at the plants to produce various electronics, one of which includes Nintendo's upcoming Wii U home console.
Reportedly, Foxconn mounted the investigation themselves and found several cases of 14-year-old students working day in and day out at the plants. According to USA Today the company embarked on a full investigation without influence from child labor associations to find out if anymore under-aged persons were working at the plants. A Foxconn representative stated that...
“We recognize that full responsibility for these violations rests with our company and we have apologized to each of the students for our role in this action,”… “Any Foxconn employee found, through our investigation, to be responsible for these violations will have their employment immediately terminated.”
The story reads a bit differently from other sources, where Kotaku reports that Child Labor Watch launched a separate investigation and found that under-age kids have been working at Foxconn plants and working overtime at that. According to the reports, the kids were coerced by their teachers to work and work hard or face banishment from school, with one teacher reportedly telling a student...
"if you don't intern, then you won't get any credit, won't receive a graduation diploma, or may even be kicked out of school."
According to China's labor laws, kids under the age of 16 must be supervised if they're to enter the work environment by a teacher or overseer. Under-aged persons must also adhere to working only as interns and for a specific amount of time. However, one of the teenager workers recounts his time at the Foxconn facility, saying...
"I did transport work, helping them move goods," .... "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."
Foxconn line management are said to be very strict, and in the case of the iPhone workers, they are required to churn out one phone every 30 seconds and up to 1,000 phones per day. There is no estimate on how many Wii U units Nintendo is expecting Foxconn to produce or at what rate, but reports from last year rumored that Foxconn was estimated to produce up to 20 million units of a console in time for the holiday season.
Foxconn was investigated earlier this year and was peppered with bad press for poor employee practices. According to a recent report by Bloomberg the company has managed to bring down excessive work rates to 60-hours a week for employees, and the report indicates that only 3% of their employees are over-worked or suffer from work-related abuse.
Given that this has come to light and Nintendo has yet to respond to the news, does it change the way you view the Wii U or whether or not you will pick one up this holiday season?