Joyce Huang contributed to this report.
An online campaign protesting the long hours Chinese high-tech employees work has gone viral on the Internet in China. At the same time, it is putting an uncomfortable light on the labor practices of China’s biggest high-tech firms.
The campaign known as 996.icu may have been small when it started on Microsoft’s code sharing website Github.com, but now, it is the second highest bookmarked project on the open source collaborative site. It has also spread quickly on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, where it is a hotly discussed topic. One posting alone had more than half a million views.
Chinese programmers came up with the ironic name 996.icu to draw attention to a work schedule reality and problem. The name is a pithy way of saying if you work the 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six-day-a-week work schedule, you’ll end up in the intensive care unit of a hospital.
And while the campaign takes aim at some of China’s biggest tech firms and includes a blacklist that details labor practices, organizers have been careful in their approach to addressing the problem.
“This is not a political movement,” the campaign said, in a bullet point outline of its principles and purposes. “We firmly uphold the labor law and require employers to respect the legitimate rights and interests of their employees.”
China’s labor law states that employers can request employees to work overtime for an hour or even three hours a day, but no more than 36 hours of overtime in total over a month’s period.