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Foxconn using unpaid students to build PS4s - Report

Foxconn using unpaid students to build PS4s - Report

Thu 10 Oct 2013 5:19pm GMT / 1:19pm EDT / 10:19am PDT
HardwareLegal

Manufacturer says interns had been assigned night shifts and overtime in violation of policies; Sony stands by Foxconn

Foxconn is drawing heat for its labor practices again, this time in connection with its manufacturing of the PlayStation 4. According to Games in Asia translations of Chinese press reports, Foxconn's Yantai plant has thousands of IT engineering students working as unpaid interns as it puts together PS4s.

According to the reports, students who refuse to participate in the internship will lose course credits, and those who do comply are made to work the same hours as paid Foxconn staff. On top of that, the tasks can be unrelated to the students' field of study, such as putting cords and manuals in PS4 boxes for shipping, or applying protective stickers to the system.

After reports of the unpaid internships circulated, Foxconn told Quartz that it had conducted an internal investigation. A representative with the company said that it found students had been inappropriately assigned to night shifts and overtime.

"Immediate actions have been taken to bring that campus into full compliance with our code and policies," the company said, adding, "reinforcing the policies of no overtime and no night shifts for student interns, even though such work is voluntary, and reminding all interns of their rights to terminate their participation in the program at any time."

Meanwhile, Sony seems comfortable with the situation. The company provided a statement to Gamasutra, saying, "The Sony Group established the Sony Supplier Code of Conduct in June 2005 with the expectation of every supplier agreeing and adhering to the policies of the Sony Group in complying with all applicable laws, work ethics, labour conditions, and respect for human rights, environmental conservation and health & safety. We understand Foxconn fully comprehend and comply with this Sony Supplier Code of Conduct."

This is not the first time Foxconn has used the next generation of workers to make the next generation of consoles. Last year, the company admitted to employing children as young as 14 in one of its factories producing components for Nintendo systems in the run-up to the Wii U launch. Nintendo said it would investigate the incident, but made no public follow-up on what actions it took as a result.

Image credit: Reuters

14 Comments

Matthew Hardy
Studying Multimedia/Game Design

38 99 2.6
Popular Comment
It makes me sick to know that if I want to partake in the computer/gaming culture, I have to endorse slave labor.

Posted:9 months ago

#1

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,136 914 0.8
Popular Comment
I'm shocked these people still use Foxconn.

They have constantly been in violation of working and human rights, I'm wondering what if any of my devices have been made by a child or unpaid employee.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 10th October 2013 8:56pm

Posted:9 months ago

#2

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,008 1,397 1.4
@ Adam They've just been the public flogging target. Every factory in China, where every electronic you own is made, is exactly the same. It's not like switching would be any better.

So yes, things you own have been made by children, unpaid interns, staff in forced overtime, and staff who have a suicide rate of ~10%. Someone who made something you own has probably killed themselves due to their living conditions. Seriously.

Posted:9 months ago

#3

James Boulton
Tools & Tech Coder

131 168 1.3
I'm shocked these people still use Foxconn.
I'm guessing because they're extremely competitive on price! Not surprising given how their work is carried out. Sadly the bottom line is money and delivered product, not welfare of the employees.

Posted:9 months ago

#4

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

555 607 1.1
Popular Comment
What i find shocking is that we can have so much public outcry by gamers and press when the Xbone "threatens" to require always connected, to a degree were these complaints lead to a major change in direction.

Yet there is little to no outcry when a company like Sony first of all uses a manufacturer like Foxconn (who is known to have issues) and then no outcry again when news like this comes out.

What this shows to me is that when people even have slight feel that their personal experience and freedom might be diminished they are prepared to go to great lengths to rectify this, but if other people are affected, or a change might mean an increase in cost to themselves, they chose to ignore the situation.

If enough people would cancel their PS4 subscriptions or write angry emails and blog posts, Sony might well be forced to source an ethical manufacturer.

But hey we buy clothes and other products every day without checking where they come from and who made them. As long as it's cheap and on time for us, that's ok.

Posted:9 months ago

#5

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,136 914 0.8
@Nicholas
@ Adam They've just been the public flogging target. Every factory in China, where every electronic you own is made, is exactly the same. It's not like switching would be any better.

So yes, things you own have been made by children, unpaid interns, staff in forced overtime, and staff who have a suicide rate of ~10%. Someone who made something you own has probably killed themselves due to their living conditions. Seriously.
For me it not so much the who but the what.

The companies that make our products have a lot of power and responsibility when it comes to where their products are manufactured, where their chips are sourced and how they can influence working conditions.

Its all well and good saying "but it happens everywhere!" but it doesn't make action any less pressing and with Foxconn as a huge concrete example, I'm shocked at the serious inactivity. Capitalism looking for a good price deal is no excuse. Capitalism can be and needs to be more responsible when this economic ideology is used.

Posted:9 months ago

#6

Sandy Lobban
Founder and Creative Director

310 195 0.6
Dont worry, you'll forget about this thread when you're shooting sh*t up.

Posted:9 months ago

#7
@Andrea

In capitalism, profit don't wash away all sins; you do when you keep buying their products.

Posted:9 months ago

#8

Eric Leisy
VR Production Designer

114 124 1.1
The problem is we're all so far removed from where these products are made, and we only hear about it. To most people it's a really abstract concept (I'll admit, even to myself a bit). It's hard for people to care about something that doesn't really effect them. It's the nature of man really, nothing to new here. It is heartbreaking though. And we're all participating in this.

Posted:9 months ago

#9

Eric Leisy
VR Production Designer

114 124 1.1
The problem is we're all so far removed from where these products are made, and we only hear about it. To most people it's a really abstract concept (I'll admit, even to myself a bit). It's hard for people to care about something that doesn't really effect them. It's the nature of man really, nothing to new here. It is heartbreaking though. And we're all participating in this.

Posted:9 months ago

#10

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

427 403 0.9
@Eric: that's exactly the problem not only with consumers but also with corporate leaders. With corporate leaders they are somewhat removed though not excused because they are not necessarily demanding the exploitation of unpaid students, they just demand a price that can only be met by it from companies that have no policies or active monitoring of their working practices, which in itself is a call for negligence.

I don't think it's a problem with Capitalism itself but our execution of it.

Posted:9 months ago

#11

Christopher Bowen
Editor in Chief

400 523 1.3
@Adam - let's say for the sake of argument that these systems were manufactured - 100% - in the USA and Canada. Or England. Some western world where everything's done above board.

Would you buy the system if, instead of $400 a system, it cost $900 or $1,000? Even if you would, who else would?

That's the problem. The system works, which *really* sucks for those at the bottom.

Posted:9 months ago

#12

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

427 403 0.9
@Christopher: if all of our systems were manufactured 100% in the western world these $400 systems would just be a great deal less powerful, as would everything else. But that power would be the norm and so the consumer would be pretty much none the wiser.

Posted:9 months ago

#13

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

555 607 1.1
@Christopher:
That's the problem. The system works, which *really* sucks for those at the bottom.
I would argue that if it sucks for those at the bottom, the system clearly does NOT work.

Posted:9 months ago

#14

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