Report: Chinese Kids Were Used To Manufacture The Wii U

Excited for the upcoming November release of the Wii U? New reports out of China might curb that enthusiasm. These reports claim that the Nintendo Wii U is being assembled by underage teens, forced to work nights and overtime in order to get school credit.

According to Chinese site Sina, Foxconn, the company hired by Nintendo to assemble the Wii U, confirms that it's had underage individuals working its factory in northeastern China.

According to a recent report on Chinese website Games QQ, Foxconn's Yantai factory had interns aged 14 to 16 work overtime to churn out the Wii U. (The site specifically mentions the Wii U.)

This report originally surfaced on China National Radio's "Voice of China" program (via Games QQ and China labour Watch). According to the report, Foxconn's Yantai factory began using students from secondary technical schools in Jiangsu Province in "forced" internships.

The students were apparently able to leave at any time; however, their teachers supposedly threatened them, saying "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."

The China National Radio report stated that interns at the Yantai factory worked on the factory floor in production and transportation.

"I did transport work, helping them move goods," said 14 year-old Xiao Wang (alias). "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."

After working consecutive night and overtime shifts, the report states that Wang asked for sick leave, but didn't get approval and was then fired after registering for "absenteeism", his third. He was allegedly told that he would be kicked out of school, because he was fired from the factory.

The China National Radio story also claims that students under 16 had to work overtime, as well as nights. One underage student said that no days off were given.

"Our investigation has shown that the interns in question, who ranged in age from 14 to 16, had worked in that campus for approximately three weeks," Foxconn said in an official statement (via Reuters).

"This is not only a violation of China's labour law, it is also a violation of Foxconn policy and immediate steps have been taken to return the interns in question to their educational institutions."

There were multiple stories (here and here) this summer and fall in China that student interns were being forced to make the iPhone 5 for Apple. It's unclear whether or not these students were underage or not.

It's also unclear whether or not these students were actually making the Wii U. According to these Chinese sources, they were. Kotaku followed up with Nintendo, but the company did not respond before this story was published. If the company does respond, this story will be updated.

The Wii and the 3DS are assembled at Foxconn plants. The Wii U might have parts manufactured in Japan, but, as this Chinese security firm points out (via NeoGAF), the final assembly is done in China. Nintendo hasn't manufactured hardware in Japan in many years. In recent years, Sony has joined Nintendo in outsourcing its game consoles to Foxconn.

"If we were to find that any of our production partners did not meet our guidelines, we would require them to modify their practices according to Nintendo's policy," Charlie Scibetta, Nintendo of America's senior director of corporate communications, told Kotaku in 2010 when asked about its relationship with Foxconn.

Nintendo in the past has said it carries out audits on its manufacturing partners. Now, if the Wii U is being assembled at this particular factory like the Chinese press is claiming, how did Nintendo miss this? Does Nintendo really know what's going on at Foxconn?

Foxconn has admitted there were underage workers at this factory. The company told Bloomberg that this was a "small number", yet that doesn't seem to make it right. However, the company claimed that this program wasn't going on at other Foxconn facilities.

"Any Foxconn employee found, through our investigation, to be responsible for these violations will have their employment immediately terminated," Foxconn told Bloomberg. "We recognise 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."

If, and that's if, they were making the Wii U, that's an unsettling notion — that the console could have been built by kids forced to work nights and overtime, just so they wouldn't get kicked out of school.

If not, if the Wii U is being manufactured at another Foxconn factory, perhaps Nintendo should start looking for a new partner.

富士康14岁童工昼夜加班 赶制日本游戏机 [Games QQ]

Foxconn Employs Interns between 14 to 16 [China labour Watch]

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.


Comments

    Nintendo Wii U: By Kids, For Kids.

      yeah right, with Darksiders 2, Assassin Creed 3, Aliens colonial marines, Mass Effect 3, Zombi U and Ninja Gaiden 3... I hope I dont see you on my Miiverse.

      For kids? theres tons of M rated titles, if you want "for kids" then go to the 360.

        Pretty sure it was just a quip.....

          Nah, just the initial troll by a half-arsed blogger to get the comments flowing. I reckon he was trying to go for the For Us By Us (FUBU) thing, but couldn't even get THAT right.

          Just another shitty pop 'journalist'.

    Combined with the "not using war-torn South American labour" story, kind of makes the cheap price a little....unpalatable

    Every time i hear about factory protests, suicidal protests or child labour in china, foxconn is involved. EVERY TIME!

    Well, duh? Foxconn have been getting the stuffing punched out of them for this kind of stuff being found out the last few years. It's not just building the Nintendo & Sony cosnosoles, its also the same company doing the iPhone and iPad (and I can only presume, iPod?) with the same kind of crap going on - over laboured, not paid enough, OH&S issues, suicide attempts..

    I totally don't agree with it - doubt anyone does, but Foxconn have been making all the high end devices of late, so chances are most people who read this site already have a few products manufactured by them, or soon will.

    This could be any product manufactured anywhere. I'll admit that nintendo are prone to the odd bit of not caring about exploitation but the interns at foxconn are probably in no worse a situation than many young people in Britain who can only get unpaid work and risk losing their benefits if they don't take unpaid work.

    Wii would like to play. But can cause they make us work.

    I don't consider those ages to be "child" labour, these are legal ages to work within Australia. Obviously the working conditions and hours are messed up but in Australia they are of working age. (with parents permission)

      The point is that they were apparently forced to work. They were threatened with being excluded from school unless they worked. If this were to happed in AU, there would be merry hell. Saldy, with the increase in demand for high-end tech not abating, this sort of thing will be commonplace going forward. The alternative is an iPhone that costs 20-30% more, and a Wii U that would start at $450.00. Just my 2c.
      But I do get your point re age. That's not the issue here. It's the situation that led to these kids working there in the first place, if allegations are accurate.

    Is there any actual proof that the Wii U is being constructed by chinese children or is the title pure supposition?

    Nintendo should definitely look into Foxconn's actions, even based on accusations, but so should you before you defame Nintendo.

    This report is pretty silly.

    Firstly, Foxconn employ over 1.2 Million people in China. That's a lot of people. To put it into perspective - one of the largest companies (if not THE largest) in Australia, Woolworths, currently employ 202,000 people.

    My point is that while the factory might have been assembling components together to form some of Nintendo products, it's just as likely the same factory assemble iPhones, or Motorola phones, or hell - any technology product you can think of.

    It's a little unfair to link Nintendo to this incident. Nintendo have said many times that they do surprise audits on their manufacturing partners, so it's doing the best it probably can considering Nintendo does not own Foxconn.

    Even so, Foxconn said the ENTIRE BLAME rests on Foxconn. They're taking the fall for this - so why isn't that reflected in the headline? Why isn't the "angle" of this story skewed towards Foxconn, and not Nintendo?

    A more mature thing to write would be "Foxconn hired underage minors to work in factory". Sure, it's not quite the linkbait, but it's actual facts. Stirring Nintendo into the pot to make it seem like this company is forcing children to make entertainment products is ethically wrong. Again; it has nothing to do with Nintendo.

    Kotaku - and a lot of other websites - sank to a new low today.

    And before this post is blamed on "fanboyism", don't waste your time. This is no different to the time Apple was blamed for Foxconn employees going on strike/killing themselves -- or any number of negative stories you hear about that place. These websites seem to target the customers of the Factory (Nintendo, Apple, etc...) and not the Factory itself.

    Foxconn isn't a perfect place. They have the employee roster of a small country -- it's not going to be smooth sailing, especially when people are so desperate to work they lie about their age, or are happy to work 18 hour days for a little extra cash. We're not talking about McDonalds down the road - we're talking about a huge company based in a country who have very different living conditions. It's not always going to be perfect.

    But to put Nintendo into the firing line for something they have absolutely no control over whatsoever is just pathetic. Shame on Kotaku and the rest.

      Yep. Very well said. If it's not Nintendos responsibility then it's irresponsible to lead the article as if it is. Underhand and weak attempt to gain a few hits. Bit pointless isn't it. Shouldnt specialist internet blogs be a bit more demanding than tabloid rags.

      I don't care what they were building, but this is pretty disgusting. They didn't 'hire' them, this is slave labour.

      "According to a recent report on Chinese website Games QQ, Foxconn’s Yantai factory had interns aged 14 to 16 work overtime to churn out the Wii U. (The site specifically mentions the Wii U.)"

        Buuuut it did come from a chinese website, and the chinese and japanese havent been exactly getting along lately...

        Nintendo contracts Foxconn to make its products, like Microsoft and Sony (and others). Is it Nintendos fault if Foxconn decides to by some coincidence use 'child labor' to make Nintendos products and not Microsofts and Sonys, and can we be 100% sure if those workers making ps3s or 360s are all of legal working age too? How does that make Microsofts and Sonys hands clean? All three have done the same thing and its by sheer dumb luck products made for Nintendo might have been made by so called 'child labor' - and have been caught out. BTW This is in no way removing responsibility from Nintendo and if found to be true must act. However Nintendo is as liable as Microsoft and Sony who are as i have said have the same/similar arrangements with foxconn.

    Being made by underage workers in China. Just like the keyboard you typed this comment on, the monitor you read it on, and probably the seat you're sitting on.

    Not saying it's okay, but it's way too late to act all surprised about this kind of thing.

    uh, you do know that kids here can work at age 14 right? hypocrisy!

    if you actually read into the article - sited Chinese link I read - Foxconn is paying the standard labour wage to hire these students. They also offer incentives to the recruiters if the employees they forwarded stays full 3 months, equivalent to 1 month wage paid. Foxconn is not the one promoting slavery here. the local schools and governments are.

    if the story is true, though.

      foxconn offer "incentives" to the "recruiters" and they're not the ones promoting this? I'm sorry did you buy your logic from a shady Chinese business?

    This website is like that. They have no problem badmouthing Nintendo but if there is good news on them they don't bother to post. Example when there is rumors that the Wii U is on par graphically with current HD consoles they kept up with the stories. Now that there are reports from developers (Ubisoft) that have said that the Wii U can not only do 1080p at 60fps but also power a separate 480p screen (IE that means its effectively doing MORE then 1080p) AT LAUNCH there's not a word. This knowledge has been known for a while now too.

      I know, its not just Kotaku as well. It seems as though nintendo is being badmouthed everywhere. Whats even worse are some of the comments from readers who show their ignorance of Nintendo. What this article failed to mention that Foxconn is also used by Microsoft, Apple and Sony. They are instead heaping the blame on the Nintendo Wii U. Although this doesn't justify what is being done, it does show that blame isn't just Nintendo's Fault, it's Apple's, Microsoft's and Sony's.

        Exactly! Why just mention Nintendo? Severe Bias that's what. Google this news, no one specifically makes mention of Nintendo as the only one guilty of this. Only the author of this article. Cheap writing for cheap hits.

    Nintendo certainly does have some responsibility as they are actively supporting this factory.

    China trying to tarnish the reputation of Japanese companies? I don't believe it!

    I agree that hiring children is wrong, the question is why is only the Wii U mentioned? Doesn't Foxconn also manufacture products for Sony Microsoft and apple too?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/oct/17/foxconn-children-14-factory-china?newsfeed=true
    This article names Sony and hp and apple yet none of those manufacturers are mentioned here, just Nintendo.

    Nintendo and foxconn should do something to stop this but the problem is that mr ashcraft makes it sound like Nintendo is the only one responsible for this. This is false. Sorry but if this doesn't reek of bias i don't know what does

      Did you read the actual reference posted that all of these articles are based around? It specifically states that the children were working on the WiiU. This is why Nintendo is mentioned. It has been posted time and time again all of the other brands that are manufactured at Foxconn, but obviously if they point out the specific product that they were making, it will make it more relevant for the consumer who is about to purchase a WiiU.

        Firstly Foxconn is one company. So if one part of its operation is doing something unethical it effects the company as a WHOLE - and as such all companies associated with it, not just one. You cant just pick and choose buddy. If the section of foxconn making Wii U's were using child labor unless you have concrete evidence stating that Nintendo themselves have asked foxconn to employ child labor specifically then why is Nintendo the only one responsible? Everyone using Foxconns services are RESPONSIBLE.

    Blame it on the western nations

      Last I checked, Japan is not a Western Nation.

    I can link to many other articles regarding this matter that dont specifically mention Nintendo too. Thats my point. Its an issue that all console manufacturers are guilty of (and hopefully they are taking steps to rectify the problem). Why target Nintendo only? This article implies that Nintendo is the only guilty one. This is not true unless Sony and Microsoft stop using foxconn which isnt the case.

    If articles on this website have before pointed out that Microsoft and Sony were using foxconn and had issue with worker rights and this website has failed to mention Nintendo then that is wrong and the website needs to be questioned as to the inaccuracy of reporting (im sure someone would have pointed out the discrepancy). Im in no way condoning these actions and hope that Nintendo makes it clear they don't accept such practices, but lets make it clear that Microsoft and Sony as well as many other manufacturers need to step up and put pressure on foxconn to stop the hiring of child labor - Not just Nintendo

    this was in response to phlaiman

    Last edited 18/10/12 10:42 am

    Hey Guys, Nintendo isn't the only company using Foxconn. Other companies such as Micosoft, Sony and Apple use Foxconn to manufacture. However what is being done, is still wrong. Nintendo has commented:

    "Nintendo is in communication with Foxconn and is investigating the matter. We take our responsibilities as a global company very seriously and are committed to an ethical policy on sourcing, manufacture and labor. In order to ensure the continued fulfillment 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. If we were to find that any of our production partners did not meet our guidelines, we would require them to modify their practices according to Nintendo’s policy. For more information about Nintendo’s Corporate Social Responsibility report, please visit http://www.nintendo.co.jp/csr/en/index.html."

    http://au.ign.com/articles/2012/10/18/iphone-wii-u-manufacturer-admits-to-employing-children

    Also, it's worth noting that it's a bit rich to start screaming "CHILD LABOUR" when the legal age in Australia to work is 14 and 9 months. Meaning the Big Mac the writer was shovelling down his neck while typing this was probably made by someone as young -- or younger -- than these "temps" at Foxconn.

    So, to Australians a 14 year old working 10 hour shifts at McDonald's is okay, but if they're in China packing Wii U boxes it's "NATIONAL HEADLINING NEWS OF AN EVIL CORPORATION EXPLOITING CHILDREN!!!!"

    Please...

    Shouldn't a little blame be put on these schools also? They're kind of ridiculous.

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