Jack Ma again endorses extreme overtime as online furor rages on

Marco Green
April 16, 2019

The comments from Ma elicited some intense reaction.

He was responding to a debate that has emerged in recent weeks among Chinese tech workers over the 996 schedule, which means working 9am to 9pm, six days a week.

This month, the activists at Microsoft's GitHub launched the 996.ICU project (996 intensive care), where workers named "Alibaba" as the company with some of the worst working conditions.

"I understand these people, and I could have said something that was "correct", but we don't lack people saying "correct" things in the world today, what we lack is truthful words that make people think".

"In my opinion, doing 996 is a huge felicity as many companies or people even have no chance to do 996. Not only is it inhumane, it's unhealthy and even more unsustainable for long periods - plus workers, relatives and the law do not approve of it", he wrote in a post on Chinese micro-blogging site Weibo. "The mandatory enforcement of 996 overtime culture not only reflects the arrogance of business managers, but also is unfair and impractical".

In a message to employees last week, Ma said that many workers lack the opportunity to put in extra hours at work, so those with the option should take full advantage of it.

"If you don't work 996 when you are young, when will you?"

"No one likes working at a company that forces you to do '996′. But if you don't pay more effort and time than others, how can you achieve the success you want?"

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.

"Those who can stick to a 996 schedule are those who have found their passion beyond monetary gains", he wrote.

But Ma appeared unperturbed by the criticism.

Some of the comments on Ma's post criticised him as out of touch, and for having little regard for his workers.

"The bosses do 996 because they're working for themselves and their wealth is growing", another comment read.

At the same time, Ma criticized "foolish" corporations that are putting their employees under pressure, making them work overtime. "One should not attach the moral labels of "slackers" or "not willing to strive" to employees who are against 996".

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Other reports by Click Lancashire

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