Alibaba chief defend ‘996’ work culture, provokes heated debate

Alibaba, one of the companies included in a black list of firms forcing overtime on employees,

Alibaba chief defend ‘996’ work culture, provokes heated debate

BEIJING: Chief of the e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Jack Ma has provoked a viral online debate after he defended ‘996’ work culture in comments.

“It’s a great honor to be able to work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week, because many companies and people have no chance to do so, even if it is their wish to do so,” said the Chinese business tycoon.

He called the “996” schedule “a huge blessing” and said workers should consider it an honour rather than a burden.

“If you join Alibaba, you should get ready to work 12 hours a day. Otherwise why did you come to Alibaba? We don’t need those who comfortably work eight hours,” he said, according to comments posted on the company’s Wechat account.

Chinese tech employees have pushed back against the industry’s notoriously long hours, known as the “996” schedule of working from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week, the media reported on Monday.

For months, former and current employees of some of the country’s most well-known companies had been posting evidence of unpaid, often compulsory or heavily encouraged overtime on the code-sharing platform Github, reports the Guardian.

Over the last few weeks, that discussion spread across Chinese social media, prompting an outcry and a broader debate about work culture in China.

Alibaba, one of the companies included in a black list of firms forcing overtime on employees,

Telecom giant Huawei reportedly promotes an aggressive, cut-throat “wolf culture” among its ranks.

On Github, users have created a blacklist of more than 150 companies, including Bytedance, the creator of the video app TikTok, Huawei, and ecommerce firm Pinduoduo.

Former and current employees continue to add to and edit the list, uploading details of the companies and the hours they require.

“Ma is too idealistic. Not everyone is like him. They don’t want to change the world and are unable to do so. For common people, survival comes before running a country,” Weibo user Jiaolianxishang Shuantoulv said.