Foxconn, the Chinese manufacturer of the Wii U, has admitted to employing 14-year-old students in making the consoles. Various reportage compiled by Eurogamer confirms the students, as part of an internship program, were illegally put to work to cover a production shortfall in advance of the console's November 18 launch.
"Our investigation has shown that the interns in question, who ranged in age from 14 to 16, had worked in that campus for approximately three weeks," Foxconn told Reuters. "This is not only a violation of China's labor law [which sets the working age at 16], it is also a violation of Foxconn policy and immediate steps have been taken to return the interns in question to their educational institutions."
Reports from watchdog group China Labor Watch indicated Chinese technical students were forced by their schools to either take the internships or risk losing credit. Once there, they were treated as any other workers, taking on long night shifts and overtime. Foxconn also manufactures the iPhone and several other popular consumer electronics, and has appeared repeatedly in the news for alleged labor violations.
Nintendo responded to IGN's request for comment on the child labor issue.
"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," Nintendo said. "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."