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Nintendo "committed" to ethical manufacturing

Foxconn factory erects suicide nets as more details emerge of working conditions

Nintendo has said that it is committed to ethical manufacturing in the wake of reports that staff at Chinese partner Foxconn are committing suicide amid poor working conditions.

New reports suggest Foxconn has put up protective safety nets around its buildings to prevent more suicides at its main Chinese plant, as further stories emerge of inhumane working practices.

The plant, which makes a wide range of consumer electronics - including the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, iPod, iPhone and iPad - has recently come under intense scrutiny following 12 attempted suicides and 10 deaths, most involving staff jumping from roofs.

The company has already pledged to increase salaries by 20 per cent and to offer counselling for its over 350,000 employees.

However, a recent Guardian report suggests an even darker background to some of the deaths, with the family of the first victim alleging that he was murdered by security staff and his dead body thrown from the rooftop.

Other staff though have pointed out that conditions at the factory are in fact better than average for the Guangdong province. Particularly after the first death in January, some have theorised that many of the deaths may have been intended to benefit the victim's families with conciliatory payments from Foxconn.

With the facts of the matter under such dispute many of the Western clients of Foxconn have instigated their own investigations, with Nintendo joining the increasing long list of concerned parties on Friday.

"We take our responsibilities as a global company very seriously and are committed to an ethical policy on sourcing, manufacture and labour," said Nintendo in a statement to GamesIndustry.biz.

"In order to ensure the continued fulfilment of our social responsibility throughout our supply chain, we established the Nintendo CSR Procurement Guidelines in July 2008. We require that all production partners, including Foxconn, comply with these guidelines, which are based on relevant laws, international standards and guidelines."

Also speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Institute of Business Ethics research director Simon Webley commented: "Organisations need continual reminders that no matter how good their products, their reputation can be seriously damaged by events and practices throughout the length of their supply chain,"

"Companies should make sure that their suppliers have similar values and ethical practices to their own. This would include respect for human and labour rights covering such issues as health and safety standards, pay rates and use of children," said Webley.

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David Jenkins