News | 15 Apr 2019

Alibaba Founder Expects Staff To Work 12-Hour Shift On 6-Day Week

Sean BreenDirector & Chief Biscuit Dunker

Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, defended the company's '996' work schedule - which expects employees to submit to 12-hour shifts between 9am and 9pm during a six-day week. 168 hours in a week, Alibaba employees are expected to spend at least 72 of them while in work and they should be grateful.

I personally think that being able to work 996 is a huge blessing.

Many companies and many people don't have the opportunity to work 996. If you don't work 996 when you are young, when can you ever work 996?

In this world, everyone wants success, wants a nice life, wants to be respected. Let me ask everyone, if you don't put out more time and energy than others, how can you achieve the success you want?

Compared to them, up to this day, I still feel lucky, I don't regret (working 12 hour days), I would never change this part of me.

After getting backlash online and being called an evil capitalist, he addressed it's not about money but self improvement:

He said 996 is not exploitation.

Artists, scientists, athletes, politicians are all 996 because it's their passion.

People who committed to 996 must have found their passion, and their happiness and not for the sake of money.

People said this only applies to Chinese staff:

I dare you to ask your American staff to work 996, you'd get sued.

You glorified overworking in China because government won't enforce labour law and corporates can do whatever they please.

Only talk of working hard, but silent on wages – this is typical language used by people who exploit others.

996 practice is definitely illegal, even in China's standard.

4 years ago, Jack Ma said that his biggest regret is spending too much time on work and cannot be with his family.

If I still can have a next life, I will never do a business like this. I will be my own self; I want to enjoy my life

China has overtaken Japan in terms of the number of people who die from overwork every year. The figure hit 600,000 in 2014. That works out to about 1,600 deaths every day.

In 2014, a pregnant worker died from large blood loss after working overtime until midnight. She showed warning signs of an ectopic pregnancy, yet she didn't go to her regular check up because a day-off would affect her performance evaluation.

In 2015, a 14 year-old boy worked himself to death on one of the factories on Alibaba. The company has only been fined 10,000 Yuan (US$1,491).

Last month, a group of tech workers made 996.ICU [By following 996, you are risking yourself getting into the ICU], attaching a full copy of China’s labour law, which prohibits more than 36 hours of overtime per month. The creator called on tech workers to come forward with examples of companies abusing staff by demanding uncompensated overtime. Alibaba and JD are named.

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