Chinese electronics manufacturer Foxconn was accused of labor violations with the iPhone 5C, iPhone 5, iPad, Nintendo Wii U and just in general. Now, add Sony's PlayStation 4 to the list, with a new report claiming that university interns are staffing overtime and night shifts for credits required to graduate.
While the PlayStation 3 was originally produced in Japan, Sony now outsources its hardware assembling to the Asian electronics mega-manufacturer Foxconn. So, the PlayStation 4 is being made in China. And according to reports, thousands of college students were forced to manufacture it.
Shanghai's Dongfang Daily (via China.com) reports that "thousands" of students from Xi'an Technological University North Institute worked at Foxconn's plant in the coastal Chinese city of Yantai as part of a work-study program that lasted from August to this October.
Chinese news reports state that the program was mandatory, and if they students did not participate, they would not receive their diploma. Some students said that leaving the program early would even cost them six college credits.
According to the students, they were given tasks and jobs that were unrelated to their majors or fields of study. Apparently, they also did manual labor.
China.com reports that student Wang Yiran said the program was a must for seniors and if it wasn't completed, regular fourth-year classes would not commence. First year and second year students, however, were also apparently in the program. According to Wang (via TechInAsia), she and her friends were put on the PS4 line, doing menial tasks all day long like removing the console's protective film and putting stickers on the machines.
"It's like being a robot," said Wang. Standing all day made her feet swollen, and she complained about the noisy factory floor.
Wang said the schedule was tough: Apparently, the students were working eleven hours a day—longer if there was overtime. Wang said there was a thirty-minute break at lunch, and there was a ten-minute break in the morning.
Another student, Li Xinzhou agreed with Wang, saying that he was forced to put PS4 manuals and cables inside the console's packaging as well as move and carry boxes. A couple students supposedly fainted.
The above photo, which reportedly shows college kids walking to the Yantai factory, is circulating on Chinese news sites.
Parents, China.com notes, were not happy and wondered why their kids had to go all the way to Yantai just to do manual labor.
The university does have a program with Foxconn, even praising 45 of its students for achieving the output of one thousand individuals at the factory (via TechInAsia). Back in fall 2012, however, the same Foxconn factory was accused of using teenagers to manufacture the Wii U.
Foxconn is refuting these latest allegations. Kotaku is following up with Sony and will update this article should the company comment.
Update: Foxconn told website Quartz (via TechInAsia) that an internal investigation revealed that the students were given night shifts and overtime. Both are violation of the company's policies. "Immediate actions have been taken to bring that campus into full compliance with our code and policies," said Foxconn. The company added that it was "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."
Eric Jou contributed to this article.
To contact the author of this post, write to bashcraftATkotaku.com or find him on Twitter @Brian_Ashcraft.
Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.