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Foxconn using overtime 'interns' to manufacture PlayStation 4
Foxconn using overtime 'interns' to manufacture PlayStation 4
October 9, 2013 | By Christian Nutt




Citing a Chinese-language story from the Oriental Morning Post which appeared on Tencent's news portal, consumer site Games in Asia reports that Foxconn has arranged with the Xi'an Institute of Information Engineering to place students in "internships" at its Yantai plant.

According to the story, Xi'an students are required to complete these "internships" at the factory or risk losing course credit -- but at the plant, they end up tasked with basic manufacturing, packaging, or logistics jobs unrelated to their course of study.

Headquartered in Taiwan, Foxconn is one of the largest electronics manufacturers in the world. However, it has often been in the news for serious issues at its factories. Last year, the New York Times published a lengthy expose of problems surrounding the manufacture of Apple's products by the firm.

It was also revealed that the company had teenagers building Nintendo's Wii U, a practice it stopped after Nintendo investigated. The company first entered the broad public consciousness in 2010 when its workers frequently began to commit suicide.

Gamasutra has reached out to Sony for comment and will update this story if any is forthcoming.

[Update: Sony has offered the following statement to Gamasutra: "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.'"

Meanwhile, Foxconn has told Quartz that following an internal investigation, it has determined that the XIT students at its Yantai factory complex were assigned to night shifts and overtime, which is in violation of the company's policies.

"Immediate actions have been taken to bring that campus into full compliance with our code and policies," the company said, noting it was "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."]

Correction: A previous version of this article said the internships are unpaid, though reports now show that is not the case. The internships are actually paid, at the same monthly rate as Foxconn workers (1800 yuan per month, or around $295). The real issues here were that Foxconn had these students working overtime and night shifts, which is in violation of policies.


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Comments


Simon Ludgate
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Well no wonder it's $100 cheaper than the Xbone.

Michael Joseph
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I suspect that a significant number of the products in your home right now were manufactured (in whole or in part) by abused / exploited workers in some part of the world.

Xbone is not likely to be an exception.

Dane MacMahon
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Indeed Michael.

Andy Cahalan
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Take note that MS have announced they'll be making profit on every box from the start and Sony have stated they're on the bone pricing wise.

Kujel s
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Is anyone surprised by this, Foxconn is notorious for this kind of crap.

Duong Nguyen
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It's almost as bad as American companies offering fun "internships" in American factories boxing chocolate. This isn't unique to China, unpaid interns have been exploited everywhere..

Justin Kovac
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"Foxconn says they also earn the same salary as entry-level workers."

From the Quartz article in the update.

Duong Nguyen
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I guess if they are paid then its more like a work program. It did kinda sound like a smear campaign, or some click bait article..

Christian Nutt
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I can say that it's definitely not cliickbait. We reported on it because we believe it's important to know what's happening in situations like this -- specifically with manufacturing.

The original source report was unambiguous about the fact that they were unpaid, but different information has come out now -- that's the nature of breaking news. We didn't break the story, but it was a fresh one-source story originally. There's been more investigation since, no doubt.

Harry Fields
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Of course, the update could be PR/damage control... Sony has deep pockets, and Foxconn, the ethical flexibility to lie to the world.

Walter Verburg
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How much of an effect might this have on their sales? It certainly makes me think twice about getting one, but I'm not sure what the wider sentiment might be.

Harry Fields
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None. The world's apathy is what led to China being the juggernaut sitting on mountains of cash that it is today. I want it, I want it now, and dammit, I want it for $9.96 instead of $9.99!
That, coupled with asses on the other side who are like, "we can save $7.64 per unit if we manufacture in China @ Foxconn. They look at the 7.64 x 1,000,000 and so on and their eyes light up, like they found "free" money. Then they don't realize they'll be paying half of that back in logistics and over twice that on duties. Left hand doesn't realize what right hand does in massive mfg corporations. They make their side of the house look good and there's always a whipping boy, usually in logistics or supply chain. But I digress.

Terry Matthes
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This is pretty bad. I hope Sony addresses this.

Kujel s
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Not unless it effects their bottom line and honestly most people would rather pretend that most of the consumer goods we buy are not made by boarderline slave labor (when not actually made by slave labor) so I'd wager at most they'll say they're looking into it but not actually do anything.

Harry Fields
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Would you pay 600$ for a PS4 if it was guaranteed to be made in U.S./Eurozone by "freedom-loving" countries?

Would you be thrilled if the retail cost was 349$ because they decided to exploit Vietnamese workers (Yeah, infrastructure isn't there yet for large scale manufacture, but labor is much cheaper than China).

Most people fall in the latter category, paying only lip-service to the "Made in the U.S.A." bit.

Kaitlyn Kaid
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honestly, the requirements for a "made in USA" sticker is pathetically low. You can pretty much do nothing more than put in the last case screw and get it now.

That is even ignoring the huge amount of manufacturing done for pennies on the dollar in sweatshops in US protectorates in the south pacific, who are "technically" US territories, however not subject to US worker protection laws like minimum wages and health and safety inspections.

Kim Pallister
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Harry's point was not the fine print around that sticker, but that US and Euro consumers pay lip service to issues like exploited labor in foreign countries, but aren't willing to pay for it.

He's right to a point. There are examples were at least SOME consumers are willing to pay more for such a thing. (e.g. people paying 20%-30% more for coffee with a 'fair trade' mark on it), but it hasn't yet proven out at high cost consumer electronics.

Billy Bissette
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Foxconn makes electronics for a lot of companies besides Sony.

Suicides at Foxconn, along with stories of unpaid labor, underage "interns", and the like, didn't stop Apple from using Foxconn. Microsoft, HP, Dell, Nintendo, Amazon, Google all use Foxconn despite repeated scandals like this.

Harry Fields
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And I always loathed Apple and their products. If they decided to move production of all North American-bound products to the U.S., I'd actually consider their wares. I have no problem with products for the Chinese or Asian markets being made in those areas or products for Europe being made in Europe... in fact, I think that's the way it should be. But that's against the point of the article. I wish Microsoft would at least return production to Mexico. as their economic health is indirectly good for the U.S. I know Xbox err.. 1 was made there back in the day when it first came out. The 360 was made in China and look at the initial quality issues (yes, some of those were design related, but many RRoDs were caused by piss poor CPU to mainboard connections caused by incorrectly applied epoxies).

With Sony, I'm actually surprised that they have decided to screw over the Japanese worker by moving almost all of their production to China. They don't have the warmest of histories. Japanese electronics manufacturing capability is legendary.

Kujel s
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Corporations have no nationality and so old fueds between nations don't factor in for them.

Dane MacMahon
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They have no nationality, but we treat them as US citizens. Classic Benny Hill stuff.

Jennis Kartens
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Time is running short for most of our living styles.

These exploits on top of fast vanishing resources will force people to think different in a not so far future...
It's sad, but it will never change unless people are forced to change. As it always was and ever will be with humans. Especially today, where this news will be forgotten by 99% of the readers in around two weeks.

Lincoln Thurber
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I don't know a lot about modern China, but I do know that from the late 1940s through the 1980s compulsory manual labor at factories and farms was expected of everyone. Beginning in the fourth grade, students usually had to perform productive labor two weeks per semester to relate classwork with production experience in workshops or on farms.

You have to assume the managers and owners of these current factories can not think of a time when students were not free labor. This is of course horrible to see still happening today since they are not being paid to manufacture high priced good and this was compulsory as well.

But, what can we do except pressure these Chinese firms to follow their own labor laws. We could ask that multinationals would bring work back to the US, but that would turn into a political football. And, you know what? American Corporation would just set up shop elsewhere if pressed to do anything except steal...pay taxes?...use well paid labor that have rights?...demand environment stewardship of this earth? LOL

Jonathan Murphy
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All of them are guilty of using Foxconn. Nintendo, Sony, MS, most computer parts, cell phones, Apple. It's disgusting and it's been going on for thousands of years. I want to see in my life time an end to indentured servitude AKA slavery. We are people, not machines. We all deserve to live well, but not decadent.

Harry Fields
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So.... from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs?

If you were ruler of the world for a day, how would you change it?

Jonathan Murphy
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When one human acquires enough wealth, resources to take care of 100,00 people. But instead hordes it, it's decadent. They have too much, and as a result we get too little.

I'm not a politician. You shouldn't be asking me. You should be asking them, and holding them accountable.


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