Overtime makes people happy, says Ma

Cornelia Mascio
Апреля 16, 2019

The Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.co-founder once more endorsed the sector's infamous 12-hours-a-day, six-days-a-week routine as de rigueur for passionate young workers.

"As I expected, my comments internally a few days ago about the 996 schedule caused a debate and non-stop criticism", Mr Ma wrote.

Mr Ma's earlier comments stoked a fierce ongoing debate over tales of programmers and founders dying from unrelenting stress.

Users within the community added to a blacklist of more than 150 companies that push their staff to work excessive hours and post evidence of unpaid overtime.

"Personally, I believe it is a blessing to be able to work 996 as many companies and individuals who want to work 996 have no such opportunity", Ma said in an internal meeting held within Alibaba on Thursday. "The mandatory enforcement of 996 overtime culture not only reflects the arrogance of business managers, but also is unfair and impractical". Industry workers set up a discussion group called "996.ICU" on the code-sharing platform GitHub, suggesting that anyone working those hours all the time could end up in a hospital intensive care unit with burnout.

Users uploaded screenshots of conversations in which they were asked to work late in the evening.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ma's comments were met with a backlash online, where many commentators argued that overtime hours are a huge blessing for employers only. If you don't work 996 when you are young, when can you ever work 996?'

One user commented on the discussion forum Zhihu: "Most of today's companies are machines that can not stop running".

Beyond Mr Ma, several of China's most prominent industry figures have also weighed in on the controversy.

Ma took to social media recently to voice his support of China's intense work culture known as "996", which refers to working from 9 a.m.to 9 p.m., six days a week.

"A load of nonsense, and didn't even mention whether the company provides overtime compensation for a 996 schedule", wrote one commenter on the Weibo post. Richard Liu, chief executive of Alibaba arch-foe JD.com Inc., said in a recent post on his WeChat moments that, while he would never force staff to work a 996 schedule, people who slacked off were not considered his "brothers". "If you do not work longer than others to make more effort, how can you achieve the success you want", he questioned Alibaba employees.

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