Nintendo investigates Foxconn suicides

Wii manufacturer joins growing list of major companies concerned over working conditions

Nintendo has entered the growing row over suicides at the main Chinese plant of Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn.

The main plant in Shenzhen employs over 350,000, mostly migrant, staff. Since January 2010 there have been 12 attempted suicides and 10 deaths, most involving staff jumping from roofs.

Foxconn produces a wide range of consumer electronics including the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, Amazon Kindle, Dell and Intel motherboards; and the Mac mini, iPod, iPhone and iPad for Apple.

As a result of the latter Apple has so far been the Western company most closely involved in the controversy and has promised to investigate accusations of long working hours and sweat shop style conditions and work practices.

According to The Times business section Sony, Hewlett-Packard and Dell have also launched their own investigations, with Nintendo now joining them.

Nintendo and the other firms all have their own guidelines for working conditions at outsourced factories, but it is unclear how closely or regularly these have been monitored.

As a result of the adverse publicity parent company Hon Hai Precision Instruments has said that it will raise salaries in all its mainland Chinese factories by 20 per cent. The basic monthly salary at the Shenzhen plant is currently the equivalent of just 90 ($131/106).

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Latest comments (10)

Kevin Hoque Programmer, The Creative Assembly9 years ago
350,000 people?? Typo?
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Joe Martin Journalism 9 years ago
It's closer to 400,000, actually.
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Richard Foligno9 years ago
This place has a bigger population than my county..
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.9 years ago
Kevin, that's no typo.

What a lot of people are noticing is that 10 suicides out of 400,000 equals a suicide rate of 2.5 per 100,000 which is a lower rate than the national average for China of 14 per 100,000.

This has gained so much media attention because it gets attributed to one company despite being well below what should be expected... 14 x 4 = 56 suicides.
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Philip Wilson Project Manager/QA 9 years ago
I wouldn't really say its being blown out of proportion since this is a business with some of the largest technology clients in the world who you would think would have a little more interest in how their products are made. If the responses from the execs from Foxconn to the initial suicides & the info revealed from the latest undercover investigations isn't a red flag that something is seriously wrong at this company then I don't know what is.
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Yiannis Koumoutzelis Founder & Creative Director, Neriad Games9 years ago
This place sounds to me like a huge concentration camp that makes our gadgets and pays a meagre amount to those who make them so that they are not considered slaves or rather for them to buy the necessities so they keep working.

Jimmy i hope you were being sarcastic :) I agree that it's over-hyped but it is an important thing!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Yiannis Koumoutzelis on 29th May 2010 6:24am

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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.9 years ago
Of course the working conditions, pay and employee morale need to be looked into but if this were any other grouping of 400,000 Chinese people, there should have been 56 suicides by now. It sounds callous, I know, and I don't mean to make light of those that took their lives but few stories ever note the national suicide rate for comparison.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.9 years ago
As my post above yours notes, I said the working conditions, pay and employee morale need to be looking into...investigated.

Even if the next square mile over has 400,000 workers from several employers but has 56 suicides....would anyone write a story with as much intensity as the Foxconn story? Statistically speaking, you're almost 6 times more likely to commit suicide working at the company across the street than at Foxconn's Shenzhen plant.

I only bring this up because no one else is. It's to bring relevance to the subject where as many people are jumping to the instant conclusion that 10 out of 400,000 is incredibly beyond usual.

And while those companies are global, 2.5 per 100,000 is still below every major industrialized nation in the world. Japan itself is at 24.4 per 100,000.
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Michael Boman Service Technician, Nintendo of America9 years ago
China has lower working standards than we do in America. The disparity of pay for labor is why so many corporations contract with manufacturers in China.

Are you willing to pay 30% more for your consumer electronics? If it helped ensure better working conditions and reduced disparity of pay, I would support it.

I found an informative article about the suicides here:

I think the underlying problem is represented by consumers who desire low cost electronics and are not eager to pay higher prices. Its hard to see some indirect impacts of consumerism until unfortunate events like this become publicized.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Michael Boman on 30th May 2010 7:51pm

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Istvan Fabian Principal Engineer, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe9 years ago
Apple is all about high cost electronics - manufacturing over there just makes their profit margin even higher.
For comparison, an iPad clone sporting very similar specs is about $100... and makes profit.
It's being sold for 5 times more in the US, 6-7 in Europe.
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