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Report: Nintendo, Others Inspecting Suicides At Assembly Plants
Report: Nintendo, Others Inspecting Suicides At Assembly Plants
May 28, 2010 | By Kris Graft

May 28, 2010 | By Kris Graft
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    6 comments
More: Console/PC



A rash of Chinese worker suicides has prompted Nintendo to re-examine labor conditions at Wii console assembler Foxconn, as the firm faces global scrutiny from partners including Microsoft, Sony, and Apple, according to a report in the UK Times Online.

Over the past few months, 10 employees at the Taiwanese-headquartered Faxconn, which employs 800,000 Chinese workers, have committed suicide. Young factory workers have been hurling themselves from the dormitories on the factories' premises, with some alleging that harsh working conditions played a part.

The Times said that other electronics manufacturers, including Dell, Sony, Apple and Hewlett-Packard, have launched similar investigations as the suicides gain more media attention. Foxconn has reportedly attempted to improve working conditions at its factories.

In addition to manufacturing the typically squeaky clean Wii, Foxconn also is a manufacturing partner on Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony's PlayStation 3 and Apple's iPod.

Typical with technology companies, Nintendo has guidelines for labor conditions for outsourced work, and regular checks of partners' working conditions are not uncommon.

The Mario house is reportedly conducting a survey of Foxconn's practices to see if the manufacturer is within those guidelines, although it's unclear what kind of action would be taken if Foxconn fails to meet those standards.


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Comments


John Hutchinson
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"In addition to manufacturing the typically squeaky clean Wii, Foxconn also is a manufacturing partner on Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony's PlayStation 3 and Apple's iPod"



"other electronics manufacturers, including Dell, Sony, Apple and Hewlett-Packard, have launched similar investigations as the suicides gain more media attention."



Nintendo should be commended for being the first to investigate these matters. There's obviously something wrong with the way that Foxconn is treating their workers and it's shameful that they did not correct the issue themselves, before any lives were lost and a business partner took it upon themselves to take the lead.

Adam Danielski
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This is pretty common for China and probably has nothign to do with Nintendo or any other company putting harsh labor regulations on the company as the article would indicate.



I agree with Nick, maybe these companies need to investigate how to make their products in the US and not where they can find the cheapest labor. Maybe take a few million away from the CEO and other execs and invest in some American labor practices.

Michael Smith
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I like to be a conscientious consumer. However, electronics purchasing has always frustrated me. It's difficult if not impossible to find a product that's not out-sourced. Worse, some are out-sourced to factories such as these. Combine that with poor manufacturing and/or recycling practices with hazardous materials. Finding out this information on your own is frustratingly near impossible. I've given up several times trying.

Ken Nakai
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The problem is it's easier to find some place cheap in China, India or somewhere else than it is to figure out how to innovate to reduce the cost of manufacturing in the US. Some companies try and succeed but it's rare. People are more concerned with costs/profits than pride in their own country. In some cases, the whole "global economy" thing is the excuse for outsourcing. I seriously doubt you'd see $150-300 consoles if they were manufactured in the US. The thing is, I have a feeling it's possible to do...it's just no one is interested in doing it. Sort of like the liberal use of illegal immigrants in other industries.



I personally hate the idea of outsourcing outside of the country...I think we're taking the easy road and ruining the one great asset of this country besides its resources: innovation. Sure we're still see innovation here and there but we're looking at small steps rather than large ones. Everyone's going nuts about the iPad but what's so revolutionary about it? It's just a larger iPhone. And the cost? I seriously doubt they'd be priced where they are if they were built where they were designed. You could probably find a lot of able bodied people happy to have a solid job with benefits and the whole nine yards in a lot of regions of this country.



Alright, I'm getting down from my soap box. By the way, someone pointed out somewhere else that the number of suicides isn't too unusual given the number of people the company employs. I'm not saying they aren't at fault in any way but it's also possible this is being blown a bit out of proportion.

John Hutchinson
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Ken Nakai,



I couldn't agree with you more in regard to outsourcing. I'm quite glad you did get on your soap box. When it comes to economics, I wish that more people were knowledgeable and brave enough to do just that.



About the possibility that this is being blown out of proportion: your response was very similar to my initial impulse reaction. 10 in 800,000 workers is but a small fraction, especially when you consider that suicides are so common in some countries. However, I personally feel that an investigation is warranted if even ONE life is loss. Of course, it'd be a much smaller investigation, but we're not talking about one life here. A real and frightening pattern is arising and if something is not done about it soon then it is more than likely that problem will continue to worsen.



What I mean is that even if this particular case is being blown out of proportion, which I don't perceive that it is, I don't think that that would be such a bad thing. The sad facts are that working conditions are horrible in some places and are often a considerable factor in high regional suicide rates. Sometimes a bit of global pressure and media attention is exactly what is needed in order for the situation to improve.

Charles Forbin
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I'd just like to give a small kudos to this article for reporting properly. Seems like every other news outlet was "Deaths at Apple factory!" with nary a mention of that any other company did business with Foxconn.


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