There has been plenty of information regarding Nintendo’s upcoming console, the Wii U. We know which games will be initially released with the console, we know that it’s going to be region-locked and we even know what the wireless range of the controllers will be. However, the most recent information that has surfaced regarding the Wii U is that it was allegedly being manufactured by underage Chinese kids.
According to the Chinese news site Sina and Games QQ, Foxconn, the factory that Nintendo commissioned to manufacture the Wii U, forced a large number of underage children to work for them overtime for up three weeks.
The Foxconn factory in Yantai has allegedly been offering “internships” to underage children while giving them the option to “end at any time [sic] internship and leaving [sic] the factory.” They are required to work like ordinary factory workers; they are often given overtime and night shifts. Many of the students would ask to go back to school but would be threatened by the teachers: “No internship would be no credits, no diploma, or even to be [sic] dismissed.”
“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.”
A Games QQ reporter asked a factory worker that was under 16 years of age about their breaks to which the underage child replied, “One day endlessly. It depends on yield many [sic], anyway, every weekend production are not [sic] stop.”
It is still uncertain whether or not these underage children were indeed manufacturing the Wii U. However, according to the Chinese sources, they were. A reporter from Games QQ asked a supervisor in the Foxconn factory what they were producing and the supervisor replied, “production game charger.” The reporter also allegedly saw boxes with the word “Nintendo” on them.
The Wii and the 3DS are known to be assembled at Foxconn factories. The Wii U has parts that may have been manufactured in Japan but, as NeoGAF pointed out, the final assembly is done in China.
Foxconn also stated that they are completely aware of the fact that they are using underage workers and that they have sent them back to school. They have started conducting an investigation as to why they’ve undertaken children to work at their factories. They also stated that “there is no evidence that similar violations [sic] in other factories.”
The use of child labor in manufacturing is not a new thing with Foxconn. A similar problem arose during the production of the iPhone 5. It is unclear whether they also used underage children but they did force internships on students as well.
Foxconn is also Apple’s largest manufacturing partner and also assembles products for Dell, Sony and Hewellet-Packard to name a few.
Whether or not the Wii U was being manufactured by underage children, Nintendo, as well as other companies, should still start looking for a new manufacturing partner.