Nintendo Of America Criticised Over Treatment Of Part-Time And Contract Workers

Image: Nintendo

Earlier this week it emerged that Nintendo of America and recruitment company Aston Carter have been named in a workers’ rights complaint; the complaint alleges actions such as ‘discharge’ from employment and ‘coercive statements’. Nintendo of America issued a response saying that the worker in question was “a contractor who was previously terminated for the disclosure of confidential information”.

Now an extensive report has been shared by Kotaku, in which it speaks to current and former Nintendo employees about working conditions, with a focus on part-time and contract workers.

Employees spoken to cite a ‘two-tiered’ system, with contractors hired through external agencies often on 11-month contracts (and enforced two month breaks afterwards) that work without health and other employment benefits. As an example, some testers reportedly earn as little as $16USD an hour, less than minimum wage in nearby Seattle (Nintendo of America is based in Redmond, Washington).

In terms of the experience within the workplace, named and unnamed sources highlight working ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with ‘red badges’ (full-time employees) but are kept ‘at arm’s length’ otherwise. For example while there are benefits like using the employee café, inviting family to visit the in-house museum isn’t allowed.

Jelena Džamonja, an employee with over five years in the ‘temporary worker cycle’, spoke of slipping and banging their head on the way to work. After experiencing potential concussion symptoms in the office they were turned away from the onsite clinic due to their employment status, and a full-time colleague wasn’t permitted to drive them to a clinic; eventually an Uber was called. “They want to control you like you’re full-time, but not treat you like a full-time worker,” Džamonja told Kotaku.

Other sources suggest full-time contracts are kept ‘on a stick’ to encourage contractors to work through poor conditions; in some cases many years of work have not resulted in full-time opportunities. Even full-time pay is described as “not great by industry standards”, with the lure of working at Nintendo and many eager prospective applicants reportedly setting the balance.

Interviewees also say that discussing their working conditions (even during internal meetings) “could lead to repercussions”, including warnings from their recruitment managers or the early termination of their contract.

The report paints a bleak picture of a workplace at Nintendo of America with clear divisions and issues for contractors and part-time workers, with suggestions that the problems are leading to tensions in the building. Kotaku states that Nintendo declined to comment for its article.

You can read the full report at the link below.

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