Nintendo of America was named alongside recruitment firm Aston Carter in a workers’ rights complaint last month when an individual worker claimed his legally protected right to unionize had been violated. Nintendo responded to this, stating that the worker was “a contractor previously terminated for disclosing confidential information” and this followed with more allegations about the working conditions of part-time and contract workers at Nintendo.
Now, in an update, Axios Gaming author Stephen Totilo has shared part of an internal message Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser sent to employees about “stories appearing in certain media regarding the “alleged working conditions at Nintendo”. Bowser said he and the management team found many “troublesome” points and were “reviewing content”. He reiterated how Nintendo had a “zero tolerance for inappropriate behavior including harassment, discrimination or bullying”.
A current contractor responsible for product testing at Nintendo told Axios that he found Bowser’s post “disappointing” as it apparently did not reference the “contractor issue at the heart of so many accounts”. Other Nintendo of America contractors have also shared their stories with Axios. A former contractor known as Ash, who worked at the customer service center, spoke of his difficulty taking time off during a difficult time in his life:
They worked at Nintendo’s customer service center for several years until 2015. Strict leave rules for contractors and limited pathways to full-time employment added to the stress contractors could be fired at any time. This pressure, they said, made heart disease worse. Ash says their moment of disillusionment came when their grandfather died: “I was told if I went to his funeral I wouldn’t have a job when I got back.”
Axios notes how these accounts match what has been posted by news sites like Kotaku and IGN. Nintendo’s contractors are employed by recruiting companies who allegedly treat them as “second class” workers – as they apparently don’t receive full-time employee benefits and never have the opportunity to access safer positions. Nintendo shared an official PR statement with GoNintendo in April, responding to the workers’ rights complaint:
“We are aware of the claim, which was filed with the National Labor Relations Board by a contractor who was previously fired for disclosing confidential information and for no other reason. Nintendo is not aware of any attempt union or related activity and intends to cooperate with the NLRB’s investigation.
“Nintendo is fully committed to providing a welcoming and supportive work environment for all of our employees and contractors. We take employment matters very seriously.”
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