Taiwanese electronics manufacturing company Foxconn is back in the news over claims that it is using forced labor in one of its China-based plants to build the PlayStation 4 for Sony.
GamesInAisa reports that "thousands of students from an IT engineering program at the Xi’an Institute of Technology are being forced to work at Foxconn’s Yantai plant assembling the Sony PlayStation 4." The work is being advertised as an internship, which means they are getting no pay for the experience of working long hours on an assembly line. GamesInAisa says that students have been told that if they refuse to participate, they could lose six course credits, which means they will not be able to graduate.
In a statement to the press, Sony says 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, labor conditions, and respect for human rights, environmental conservation and health and safety," the company said. "We understand Foxconn fully comprehend and comply with this 'Sony Supplier Code of Conduct.'"
But it turns out that it is not in compliance. A subsequent report from Quartz offers an acknowledgement from the company that something is amiss and they are investigating the program run by the university and the work being done at its plant. The short story is that they are putting the brakes on the whole thing.
"Immediate actions have been taken to bring that campus into full compliance with our code and policies, 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."
We will have more on this story as it develops. Foxconn is no stranger to trouble when it comes to how it treats its often young employees; the company earned worldwide attention for its employees (making iOS devices for Apple, and other electronics for various tech giants in the world) committing suicide by jumping off the roofs of factories due to horrible working and living conditions.