According to a report from Reuters, electronics manufacturing giant Foxconn has admitted to employing underage Chinese citizens. Following initial investigations, it was revealed that a number of workers in the student intern program were as young as 16. The report does not indicate how many were found.
Foxconn, the more common name of Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry, is one of the largest manufacturers of consumer electronics in the world. They are widely known for being Apple’s largest manufacturing partner, but recently they have also begun manufacturing of Nintendo’s upcoming console, the Nintendo Wii U. The plant accused of using underage laborers is located in Yantai.
When asked to comment by IGN, Nintendo released an official response: “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 been under scrutiny in recent years following various incidents at their plants. In 2010, there were a number of reports of employee suicides due to labor abuse and excessive overtime. In September, a riot broke out at the iPhone manufacturing plant in Taiyuan regarding living conditions for workers. Following the admission, Foxconn stated they will work with local Chinese governments to bar the schools associated with the Yantai case from the intern program.