Foxconn admitted this week to hiring underage interns at its Yantai plant in China. Many assumed the Yantai plant has some association to the production of Apple products, but in reality Nintendo’s Wii U gaming console is undergoing testing there.
As many as 56 kids were working at the plant, some as young as 14; Chinese law maintains that workers must be at least 16. It’s ironic, in a really sad way.
To that point, Nintendo has issued a statement on the matter:
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.
Foxconn has taken measures to rectify the situation, sending the underage interns home and promising to fire anyone responsible for the hire of interns under 16.
Foxconn has been under some serious scrutiny lately, constantly under the watchful eye of human activists groups after a series of suicides in the past few years and multiple factory fires. In fact, Foxconn inadvertently came up in the second presidential debate when CNN’s Candy Crowley asked the candidates why iPhones, iPads, and Macs can’t be manufactured in the U.S.