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Foxconn admits to overworking students on PS4 assembly line, “immediate action” taken to bring campus to “full compliance”

Thursday, 10th October 2013 14:14 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Chinese manufacturer Foxconn has been forcing labor on “thousands of students from an IT engineering program at the Xi’an Institute of Technology” as part the factory’s PS4 manufacturing operation, according reports out of China.

Per GamesInAisa, the reports state that the students are being forced to work at Foxconn’s Yantai plant under the guise of an ‘internship’.

“Students have been told if they refuse to participate, they lose six course credits, which effectively means they will not be able to graduate,” cites the report via MCV. “Students say that their working hours are exactly the same as regular workers – the only difference is that unlike the workers, the students aren’t being paid”.

Sony told MCV that Foxconn has been found to be fully compliant with its own code of conduct.

“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 and safety,” it said in a statement.

“We understand Foxconn fully comprehend and comply with this ‘Sony Supplier Code of Conduct’.”

But according to various reports, the students were assigned to jobs that had no relation to their fields of study, including assembling and packing PS4s.

In a statement issued to Quartz, via CVG, the Chinese manufacturer acknowledged that the engineering students who were assigned to night shifts and overtime was done so in direct violation of the company’s policies.

“Immediate actions have been taken to bring that campus into full compliance with our code and policies by 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,” said the statement.

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66 Comments

  1. salarta

    Well, this is pretty damning for both Foxconn and Sony, and Sony claiming Foxconn has been in full compliance with the code is terrible. Also, what kind of IT engineering job spawned from getting a degree at a university entails assembling and packing PS4s?

    PS4 may be the best console of the generation, but reading this, I’m strongly considering canceling my preorder. The final statement from Foxconn in the last paragraph is what makes me hesitate, since it implies they’re correcting mistakes, but it doesn’t say what beyond amount of hours worked.

    Also, “reminding all interns of their rights to terminate their participation in the program at any time.” Right. They’re free to terminate, sure, all it means is not graduating with the degree they want after the years they’ve spent at university to get that degree.

    #1 11 months ago
  2. Ashmael

    @1 Nice one Microsoft marketeer

    #2 11 months ago
  3. MCTJim

    Well this doesn’t surprise me at all. Though I don’t condone this, How many products are made like this we will never know. In a sense, the only reason why this is news is because they got busted..and like all companies that get busted doing this, they will address it..remember those whole Ted Turner Jane Fonda fiasco with their products? Remember Nike..Reebok? and as soon as the media isn’t looking, it will be business as usual..which is sad.

    #3 11 months ago
  4. Arcnail

    While sad it’s happening, it’s not new news. Seeing as everything we wear and use seems to be made in China these days, I’m sure we’re already participating a lot in this overworked child labor stuff.

    #4 11 months ago
  5. DrDamn

    @1
    I fail to see what Sony have done here? It’s an issue with Xi’an Institute of Technology more than anyone else. It’s an inappropriate work placement and one that should be optional. There is nothing to suggest they are being mistreated beyond that.

    #5 11 months ago
  6. Dave Cook

    @2 crazy person.

    #6 11 months ago
  7. freedoms_stain

    You can pretend to be shocked at Sony/Foxconn about this if you like, but pretty much every piece of Asian manufactured or assembled electronics, clothing or whatever else you have that was made in Asia was made under similar circumstances if not worse.

    Your lifestyle is built on the broken backs of millions of abused workers, farmers and employees from the shitty corners of the world.

    Don’t lie to yourself.

    #7 11 months ago
  8. Belazur

    #1 salarta
    Your FUD you are spreading here didn’t even work on the Neogaf boards.
    So STFU already.
    You don’t even have a PS4 pre-ordered. So give it up, fanboy.

    #8 11 months ago
  9. Eregol

    Funny, before today Foxconn were one of the vendors listed for XB1 manufacture as well, now it seems to have disappeared.

    #9 11 months ago
  10. Ilovesony

    @1 who put you up to this… balmer? up here trying to destroy my sony!! you aint preordered no PS4… you just want playstation to fail.. BUT it wont… it will outperform, outsell, and completely dominate that bonebox one… nice try salarta… and just so you know.. your name backwards is atralas.. which is swahili for “Doggystyle”

    #10 11 months ago
  11. salarta

    @2: Thank you Jesus, I’ll be here all night!

    @3: Yes, it’s one of the things that make me dislike modern society in many respects. We have a great deal of convenience, but it comes at the price of ethics.

    @5: As the company contracting Foxconn, Sony has at least some level of influence and responsibility for how their products are made by that company. Not as much as the company itself, but they still have some. It would also be possible to argue that Foxconn’s behavior could be a direct result of pressure to make enough consoles for launch; even if Sony doesn’t put pressure on Foxconn to perform, Foxconn could feel the need to satisfy demand out of fear that Sony might take business elsewhere or negotiate for paying Foxconn less for their work. And that’s ignoring that Sony has said, so far, that Foxconn is in full compliance of their agreement expectations and left it at that, essentially condoning that behavior under the guise of it falling outside the realm of what they’re “allowed” to influence. It may be an issue with Xi’an Institute of Technology more than anyone else, but it’s still something that Sony has a hand in.

    @7: This is true. The problem is, there isn’t a ton of alternative provided. Society requires at least some of the things manufactured by such companies. Even if there are alternative options, they are often either hard to find or costly enough that cumulative price would be too much for many people. The only alternative is to do things like make your own clothing, not buy smartphones or whatever electronic device is predominantly made that way, etc. That’s not entirely a defense of people that buy these things, but a noting of how difficult it would be to take a stand. Offer up an easy way to purchase products guaranteed to be made ethically, and at a cost low enough that people can afford to buy it, and a lot of the business for products made by companies like Foxconn would go away.

    @8: What does FUD mean? And I was on Neogaf? When did that happen? Also, I preordered my PS4 immediately when it became available on Amazon, as well as Destiny and Final Fantasy XV.

    #11 11 months ago
  12. DeVitowned

    I am sure this happens to most, if not all, major companies outsourcing manufacturing. Foxconn needs to be shut down, period. Their crimes against workers are well-known, as are the suicide rates associated with people under their contracts. They have nets installed to deter jumpers for crying out loud!

    #12 11 months ago
  13. KineticCalvaria

    As long as I get my PS4 on launch day I’m happy, keep working lads.

    Totally joking by the way…

    #13 11 months ago
  14. Dave Cook

    @13 I’m glad you added that last line :P

    #14 11 months ago
  15. KineticCalvaria

    @14, Indeed, I was waiting for the replies :D.

    #15 11 months ago
  16. tenthousandgothsonacid

    I honestly don’t care as long as I get one on release day. Whinging students.

    #16 11 months ago
  17. DrDamn

    @11
    It still boils down to students doing in appropriate placement work. It’s hardly 12 year-olds being forced to work 18 hour days with no breaks, water etc. They do the same as regular Foxconn employees except the work is unpaid as it’s considered part of their course. It’s a problem with the course and institution that they are part of.

    #17 11 months ago
  18. G1GAHURTZ

    So it turns out that $ony was still evil all along…

    #18 11 months ago
  19. salarta

    @17: The core problem here is that the interns were being essentially forced to work overtime and do jobs that aren’t actually part of their necessary duties. The secondary problem is that making this internship a requirement to graduate means they have no say at all in their treatment, because the only alternative is to “terminate” the program and therefore not get their degrees and therefore have wasted time and money (I don’t know if they have to pay for tuition, but surely they must pay for room and board while going to school) to get an education at all. As the contractor of Foxconn, Sony STILL has some say in what Foxconn does while making the products they contracted Foxconn to make.

    It’s not as bad as child labor with unethical treatment, but it’s still bad. It also may not be the kind of work that is actually expected for people that get the kind of degrees they do, as demonstrated with the whole assembling and packaging PS4s thing.

    #19 11 months ago
  20. AmiralPatate

    Surprise, Foxconn is still a gulag.

    #20 11 months ago
  21. DrDamn

    @19
    Foxconn admitted the overtime and night shifts were against their own policies. If policies are broken that’s Foxconn’s fault not Sony’s, the appropriateness of the work is the responsibility of the institution.

    #21 11 months ago
  22. Javinator

    This is how Sony is getting the PS4 $100 cheaper: Report: Chinese students forced to manufacture PS4 at Foxconn plant.
    http://www.polygon.com/2013/10/10/4823796/report-foxconn-chinese-students-forced-to-manufacture-ps4

    My PS4 pre-order has been canceled.

    #22 11 months ago
  23. DrDamn

    @22
    Yes because some students from one institution for 2 month internships really makes that $100 difference on several million consoles doesn’t it?

    #23 11 months ago
  24. fearmonkey

    Foxconn makes parts and packages for a ton of other people, including MS.

    http://www.geek.com/games/foxconn-is-already-assembling-the-new-xbox-for-microsoft-1555877/

    The Original Xbox’s Power supply issues, the main manufacturing issue that happened with them, those were Power supplies made by Foxconn.

    So trashing MS/Sony for something Foxconn does is stupid, they are both involved with them. If your not going to buy one console, then you shouldnt buy ANY next gen console.

    #24 11 months ago
  25. Riseer

    @22,If you own any of these companies product’s Acer,Amazon,Sony,Microsoft,Nintendo,Cisco,Dell,Google,Hewlett Packard,Vizio,Apple,Toshiba,Nokia,Motorola Mobile.

    Toss em away,this is the Chinese government fault.If children were forced to make Ps4′s then I would had a huge problem.That said it’s still wrong,but to cancel a pre order is silly.Apple had to deal with it,Foxxconn needs an overhaul no doubt about it.

    #25 11 months ago
  26. DSB

    I didn’t realize Foxconn were making the PS4 again, I thought it was Pegatron.

    Either way it’s pretty hilarious. It’s a bit like Nike and the child workers.

    “Oh, we’ll “fix” that right away. Honest. Scout’s honor. We wouldn’t lie to you.”

    Bull… Fucking… Shit.

    #26 11 months ago
  27. Javinator

    SLAVESTATION

    #27 11 months ago
  28. Javinator

    Although Foxxcom makes products for other, it specifically says the abuse is only for the PS4, Sony is probably involved.
    Either way, PS4 pre order has been canceled.

    #28 11 months ago
  29. G1GAHURTZ

    @27:

    +1

    #29 11 months ago
  30. DSB

    @28 Unless you’re one of those hippies who never buy any brands, then you’re really just a hypocrite. Microsoft and Apple use Foxconn as well, and the competing companies aren’t much better. I’m wearing a Nike t-shirt right now, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t sewn by anyone within 6000 miles of the US mainland.

    My 360 was made at Foxconn, it even says so on the box. I’m not about to defenestrate it for that reason.

    It’s the way of the world. Brown and yellow people get worked till they break, and you get cheap shit.

    “Price is king” and all that jazz.

    #30 11 months ago
  31. fearmonkey

    @28 – You trash the PS4 in previous articles , you have never had a PS4 pre-order. Don’t you have a NSA camera to dance in front of for your masters enjoyment.

    HAHA DANCE for me Javinator..XBOX ON!

    #31 11 months ago
  32. bradk825

    It’s voluntary and they can terminate at any time… As long as they are ok with losing 6 credits.

    Do the right thing here Sony, make them fall in line or terminate the contract. It’s better to fall behind on production than become a company that puts profit ahead of human rights.

    #32 11 months ago
  33. DSB

    @32 Dude, don’t kid yourself. Companies like Sony, Microsoft and Nike put on a happy face until the cameras are gone, then they start it right back up.

    They care about dollars, not people. And so do we, really.

    #33 11 months ago
  34. G1GAHURTZ

    They’re all evil, but Sony is the most evil of all, because they threatened to make those poor little Chinese kids flunk their course.

    Looks like $ony doesn’t know that the (China/Japan) war is over!!!

    BOOOOOO!

    Down with SLAVESTATION!!

    #34 11 months ago
  35. DSB

    @34 Hahaha. From cotton picking to parts picking. That’s sorta progress, right?

    #35 11 months ago
  36. AmiralPatate

    @21
    Because Sony didn’t choose Foxconn as their manufacturers, and never heard about Foxconn’s glorious stories of modern slavery.

    #36 11 months ago
  37. G1GAHURTZ

    @35:

    Yeah… Next they’ll probably force them to spend all the money that they ‘earned’ to go out and buy a PS4, or they don’t receive their final certificate…

    Let’s off to KickStarter, to make an ethical console!

    Free trade hardware… You know it makes sense!

    #37 11 months ago
  38. Pytox

    @37 :Micro$oft does it to there …
    remember this
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/01/12/chinese-foxconn-workers-threaten-mass-suicide-over-xbox-pay-dispute/

    #38 11 months ago
  39. Eregol

    If Salarta is still asking what FUD means….

    Female Urinary Device.

    #39 11 months ago
  40. Ashmael

    @6 Butthurt Feminist Journalist.

    #40 11 months ago
  41. Se_7_eN

    So Foxconn is giving away free internships basically!? Good Guy Foxconn!

    #41 11 months ago
  42. laughing-gravy

    It was FUD all along. This is the report and it doesn’t even mention Sony or PS4. It does mention Apple however.
    http://www.scmp.com/news/china-insider/article/1328583/university-students-forced-work-iphone-maker-foxconn

    #42 11 months ago
  43. Ashmael

    @42 is Microsoft Marketeers trying to missinform the people, JA! is the only thing they can do to try to stop being stomped by the PS4 sales.

    #43 11 months ago
  44. sh4dow

    @6

    For preordering a PS4?

    Otherwise – considering your frequent articles on social justice issues, I hope you were being sarcastic.

    #44 11 months ago
  45. salarta

    @44: I think you may have been looking at the wrong comment when following who Dave was addressing. Dave was responding to the guy that said “Nice one Microsoft marketeer.”

    #45 11 months ago
  46. Templar_Dante

    @ SALARTA
    Dude, apply for the CEO job at MS. :)
    I bet you already have ;)

    #46 11 months ago
  47. salarta

    @46: I’m actually Bill Gates, and my dislike of Microsoft making game consoles comes from hating myself. ;)

    #47 11 months ago
  48. pcbros

    “But according to various reports, the students were assigned to jobs that had no relation to their fields of study, including assembling and packing PS4s.”

    “I thought we were going to learn how to design a network today. Why are we here snapping plastic covers to this mysterious machine labeled ‘PS4′… hey, Noh Pae! Can you turn the fan on, it’s getting hot in here!”

    #48 11 months ago
  49. sh4dow

    @45

    Yeah, I considered that too. Although in the end, it seemed more likely to me that he was elaborating on what that guy said. Or disagreeing and offering up his own opinion on your comment.
    Especially because it would seem weird to call Ashmael a crazy person for his comment. One might argue that it was dumb. Or inappropriate. But crazy? I don’t think so.

    #49 11 months ago
  50. Ashmael

    @49 check @42

    #50 11 months ago
  51. salarta

    @49: I’m choosing to believe that Dave was saying that about Ashmael because Dave threatened to kill all my kittens if I didn’t believe it was about Ashmael. :P

    Whatever Dave meant, thanks for the defense.

    #51 11 months ago
  52. Dinasis

    @42 What are you talking about? “it doesn’t even mention Sony or PS4″

    The blurb at the top notes that Foxconn makes “…iPads, iPhones, iPods for Apple, Kindles for Amazon, PlayStations for Sony and Xboxes for Microsoft.” And from the article itself: “One student said he had to put stickers on Sony PlayStation game consoles, while another said he had to pack PlayStation user manuals and cables into boxes.”

    #52 11 months ago
  53. zersus

    Dear Sony, today you disappoint me. I’m feeling bad now buying your product.

    #53 11 months ago
  54. Phoenixblight

    @53

    How about 80% of your other electronic products? Foxconn does more than Sony consoles.

    #54 11 months ago
  55. DSB

    “OMG, THIS IS IN THE NEWS, I SUDDENLY CARE ABOUT IT SO MUCH!”

    Literally two minutes later

    “OMG NEW SNEAKERS!!!”

    Fuck you guys. Seriously, fuck you. Fuck you so hard, you make absolutely no difference. None.

    I just felt like putting that out there :P

    #55 11 months ago
  56. pcbros

    @54, True but the article clearly takes a stab directly at the PS4.

    @52, When you unbox your PS4 and look at those stickers on it… Just know you helped a kid get through school. Lol :P I couldn’t resist.

    #56 11 months ago
  57. wildBoar

    This just makes me wanna buy a PS4 even more really. If I don’t all their effort will have been in vain, lal.

    It’s this way with practically everything though, the fruit you buy, the clothes you wear. You’re of the 20%, we’re all guilty and all blessed. Now go watch Big Bang theory and soothe yourself back into dimwitted apathy.

    #57 11 months ago
  58. Joe Musashi

    Looks like a handful of the usual suspects are really enjoying this story. All following the same hive-mind crass thinking. Very telling.

    JM

    #58 11 months ago
  59. polygem

    i honestly try to avoid this crap as much as i can but i am having a hard time with my electronics. i am definitely not as consequent as i should be. i buy bio organic food and my clothes also are fair trade, biologically produced. i recently bought a pair of nikes for running and i felt bad for doing so :)
    then i thought about the electronics industry again…well, it’s ok to say this is bullshit, because it is, but i agree, if you don’t want to support this- don’t buy it. stuff like this needs to change. the world could easily sing another tune. it’s a decission. “capitalism is indeed organized crime and we all are the victims” (i think swedish hc band refused 199?)

    *i stealth edited something here to maintain the peace* :)

    #59 11 months ago
  60. polygem

    ian mackaye talks politics, protest and profit

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btLXHdIZ59M

    fugazi was probably the most influential band in my life.

    #60 10 months ago
  61. DSB

    Lulz polygem. I’ve had the same experience.

    I was shopping for trainers, ended up with a pair of Nike… Frees I think they’re called?

    And they’re so comfortable it basically feels like you’re walking on top of a pair of newborns, and I was just wearing them thinking “This definitely makes me a terrible person… But they feel soooo good”

    And then I started thinking about it like wildBoar, and suddenly I was just really thankful that those eight year old Indian kids exist, because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have my Nike Frees. So now I just send them a little mental “thank you” whenever I wear them.

    I’m not sure it makes much difference, but it really does wonders for my white guilt.

    (If you don’t own a pair of Nike Frees, get some. Holy crap they’re comfy)

    #61 10 months ago
  62. sh4dow

    @54

    It’s one thing to buy something where you don’t really know where it comes from. It’s a whole other thing however, to buy something about which you actually learned that it was produced in very questionable conditions.

    #62 10 months ago
  63. polygem

    @DSB: cough…yes i have nike frees as well. they are indeed EXTREMELY!! comfy. they are the perfect metaphor for this because of that. for us consumers it’s all about the convenience in the end.

    #63 10 months ago
  64. Pytox

    @62 have you been there? you dont actually totally know what is going there when you only read what shows up in the media

    #64 10 months ago
  65. laughing-gravy

    @ 52 The original story never mentioned Sony or PS4. The piece has been amended since then. I guess it didn’t meet MSoft’s FUD agenda to the degree they wanted.

    #65 10 months ago
  66. Legendaryboss

    What the fuck did i just read in the comment section?

    #66 10 months ago

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