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Microsoft Employees Decry ‘996’ Chinese Work Culture

The Alibaba Founder Ma has suggested that people in China should work for 72 hours in a week or 12 hours a day for six days

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FILE - Microsoft Corp. signage is seen outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Washington, July 3, 2014. VOA

A group of Microsoft employees has come forward to support Chinese tech workers on the gruelling ‘996’ culture, writing a petition in defence of a trending GitHub repository that is being censored in China.

In a letter written on web-hosting service Github, owned by Microsoft, the employees have asked the company to keep the “996.ICU” GitHub repository uncensored, The Verge reported on Monday.

The repository “996.ICU” is a reference to the working hours that tech workers in China are protesting — 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week.

The ICU refers to employees who work under these grueling hours, eventually ending up in the Intensive Care Unit at hospitals.

“The “996.ICU” repository was established in March by Chinese tech workers who were protesting extreme overwork,” said the report.

The “996” philosophy has been endorsed by the tech billionaire and Alibaba Founder Jack Ma.

Several local Chinese browsers have already blocked access to 996.ICU, including Tencent, Alibaba, Xiaomi, and Qihoo 360.

Microsoft, that owns GitHub, has not blocked the repository till now.

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A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. VOA

“We, the workers of Microsoft and GitHub, support the 996.ICU movement and stand in solidarity with tech workers in China. We know this is a problem that crosses national borders,” wrote employees in the petition.

“Another reason we must take a stand in solidarity with Chinese workers is that history tells us that multinational companies will pit workers against each other in a race to the bottom as they outsource jobs and take advantage of weak labour standards in the pursuit of profit,” they added.

Microsoft workers called on Chinese tech companies to comply with local labour laws, which limit their workers to 40 hours a week.

“We encourage Microsoft and GitHub to keep the 996.ICU GitHub repository uncensored and available to everyone,” they said.

Also Read- Apple Spent Over $30 mn on Amazon Cloud in Q1 2019

Since 996.ICU is hosted on GitHub, the repository can’t be blocked at a network level without blocking the entire site, which would be catastrophic to Chinese software developers.

“The ultimate decision of whether to risk China’s GitHub access falls to Microsoft, which so far hasn’t indicated a firm position on the protests,” the report added.

The Alibaba Founder Ma has suggested that people in China should work for 72 hours in a week or 12 hours a day for six days.

“If we find things we like, 996 is not a problem. If you don’t like (your work), every minute is torture,” he said in a blog post. (IANS)

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Amazon Asks Judge to Block Microsoft from Pentagon Project

The US government in October awarded the much-anticipated $10 billion Cloud contract for Pentagon to Microsoft

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Security guards stand at the reception desk of the Amazon India office in Bengaluru, India, Aug. 14, 2015. VOA

Amazon Web Services (AWS), the retail giant’s Cloud arm, has asked a US judge to force a stay of work on Microsoft’s $10 billion Cloud contract until the court can rule on Amazon’s protest over the Pentagon awarding JEDI to Microsoft.

Amazon had sought ‘preliminary injunction’ from the court to temporarily block Microsoft from starting work on the billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project.

In a statement shared with Fast Company, an AWS spokesperson said that it is common practice to stay contract performance while a protest is pending.

“It’s important that the numerous evaluation errors and blatant political interference that impacted the JEDI award decision be reviewed. AWS is absolutely committed to supporting the DoD’s modernisation efforts and to an expeditious legal process that resolves this matter as quickly as possible,’ the spokesperson added.

Amazon filed a motion asking a federal judge to block Microsoft from working on any substantive tasks for the JEDI project while the court considers the matter. The motion makes good on Amazon’s previous pledge to try to pause work on the contract while the legal challenge is underway.

FILE - Microsoft Corp. signage is shown outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Wash.
FILE – Microsoft Corp. signage is shown outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Wash. VOA

Amazon last year filed a suit with the US Court of Federal Claims contesting the decision.

“AWS is absolutely committed to supporting the Department of Defense (DoD’s) modernisation efforts and to an expeditious legal process that resolves this matter as quickly as possible,” the AWS spokesperson said.

Also Read: Tencent Offers to Acquire Funcom Games for $148mn: Tech Report

Microsoft is set to start its work on JEDI Cloud contract from February 11.

The US government in October awarded the much-anticipated $10 billion Cloud contract for Pentagon to Microsoft.

In its complaint against the government decision, Amazon alleged Trump abused his position to put “improper pressure” on decision-makers for personal gains and show his hatred towards Bezos who owns The Washington Post. (IANS)