Those working at Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. need to work an exhausting 12 hours a day with only one day off a week Otherwise known as a 996 Schedule. The billionaire owner of the company, Jack Ma, demands this rigorous schedule of all his staff. After all, it’s China’s largest e-commerce platform.
During an international meeting, Ma announced that Alibaba has no use for people looking for the normal eight hours a day office workstyle. Instead, Ma proudly stated his endorsement to his industry’s notorious 996 work culture through a post on Alibaba’s official Weibo account. The 996 stands for 9 in the morning to 9 at night, six days a week.
According to China’s richest man, the ability to work a 996 job is a great blessing. Ma said that if someone wants to join Alibaba, they need to work hard, 12 hours a day. Ma then stated those who don’t want that kind of work shouldn’t even bother joining his business.
The tech industry in China is flooded with stories of startup founders and programmers dying suddenly concerning long hours and the stress that builds up after that kind of workload. Ma’s comments on the 996 work week created some strong waves across the country.
One commenter stated that Ma’s words were utter nonsense. They continued by saying the statement never mentioned if the 996 workers received overtime compensation for their work. The comment ended by hoping that people can stick more to the law rather than their reasoning.
Another comment on the Weibo account stated that the bosses work this 996 schedule because they work for themselves and their wealth is growing exponentially. The underlings, however, work 996 only because they’re being exploited without any overtime compensation.
Alibaba representatives didn’t respond to a request for comment immediately.
Chinese workers Gather Online to Gather Information on Deadly 996 enforcing Businesses
Ma’s comment is only part of an ongoing and fierce debate. Chinese programmers protested back in March about their labor condition through the online code-sharing community Github. Their uniting banner was 996.ICU. This topic quickly became the site’s most popular one with over 211,00 stars.
The description posted on the 996.ICU project page states that in following a 996 schedule, you are risking a trip to the Intensive Care Unit. While we don’t know the creator of the community, they called on tech workers to step up with examples of abusive behavior companies had in demanding workers stay for uncompensated overtime. Both Alibaba and Ant Financial, a financial affiliate of Alibaba, came up.