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China: Technology workers protest online against overtime work culture, access to the webpage reportedly blocked by some domestic browsers

"Chinese technology workers are protesting online against grueling overtime hours at some companies…The posts on Microsoft’s GitHub, which calls itself the world’s largest code host, and other programming tools have gone viral amid large-scale layoffs in the sector. The protest is aimed at the industry’s “996” work culture, which refers to the 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. workday, six days a week. An anonymous activist launched project “996.ICU” on GitHub last week where workers share examples of excessive overtime and vote for the top blacklisted companies as well as firms with better working conditions…" "The letter read: “If you continue to tolerate the ‘996’ work schedule, you will risk your own health and might need to stay in an Intensive Care Unit someday.”

"A number of internet users in China are reporting seeing their access to the database cut off when using browsers offered by companies like Tencent, Alibaba, Xiaomi, and Qihoo 360..."

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Article
3 June 2019

How Chinese tech workers are organizing the online #996 labor movement, despite risks of censorship

Author: Jason Li, 88 Bar

Among the millions of people employed in China's booming technology industry, a growing number are expressing discontent with the long hours…[A] group of Chinese tech workers published 996.ICU: an online letter and GitHub repository decrying a practice known as “996”, a shorthand for having to work from 9am to 9pm, six days a week…The letter read: “If you continue to tolerate the ‘996’ work schedule, you will risk your own health and might need to stay in an Intensive Care Unit someday.” In response to the letter, the CEOs of Alibaba, JD.com and Sogou all rose to publicly defend the practice, which only furthered its popularity worldwide…

In May 2019, more than 242,000 users starred (favorited) the #996 GitHub repository where the letter, memes and other documentation about the movement are hosted, expressing solidarity with China’s tech workers. When the 996 meme first made headlines abroad, many worried that the Chinese government would step in and force Microsoft, owner of GitHub, to block access to 996.ICU within China. Western press outlets even began lionizing Microsoft employees as protectors of free speech after a group of them published an online letter asking their company not to censor itself…

[In] a speech given by Guoqing Li, the CEO of e-commerce giant Dangdang…he criticized 996 work culture…in stark contrast to his tech CEO peers at Alibaba, JD.com and Sogou who defended the practice.

The images and discussion above are still readily accessible a month after the 996 meme became an international news story. That they survived this long and are still easy to find suggests that the authorities in China decided to let the discussion play out rather than stifle it through censorship. In fact, the government seems to be publicly denouncing 996 as well…

[T]here are at least several instances where Sina Weibo stepped in to moderate the conversation…the original post with the remixed PSA posters above was taken down, according to the creator, on grounds that it a) contained sensitive elements from its use of propaganda posters, and b) had become too popular and controversial…

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Article
4 April 2019

Rare overtime protest by China tech workers goes viral

Author: Cate Cadell, Reuters

Chinese technology workers are protesting online against grueling overtime hours at some companies, a rare push back against the work culture in the country’s tech industry.

The posts on Microsoft’s GitHub, which calls itself the world’s largest code host, and other programming tools have gone viral amid large-scale layoffs in the sector. The protest is aimed at the industry’s “996” work culture, which refers to the 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. workday, six days a week. An anonymous activist launched project “996.ICU” on GitHub last week where workers share examples of excessive overtime and vote for the top blacklisted companies as well as firms with better working conditions…

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, JD.com Inc and drone maker DJI Technology Co Ltd were among the blacklisted firms. Alibaba did not immediately respond to a request for comment.... A DJI spokesman said the company does not discuss specific employment issues, but it has “a firm commitment to treating our employees with the highest respect and providing a healthy working environment.” A spokesman for JD.com declined to comment...

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Article
2 April 2019

China: Domestic browsers reportedly censor GitHub page on which workers air workplace grievances

Author: Shanon Liao, Verge (US)

"Tencent and Xiaomi may be censoring a GitHub page for airing worker grievances", 3 Apr 2019

A trending and vastly expanding GitHub database where Chinese developers have been airing their workplace grievances may be at risk of censorship. A number of internet users in China are reporting seeing their access to the database cut off when using browsers offered by companies like Tencent, Alibaba, Xiaomi, and Qihoo 360, as first spotted by Abacus. There’s no indication yet that these censorship efforts may have originated from government orders...

Alibaba’s UC Browser was screenshotted as blocking the database and Alibaba’s name has come up in worker accusations. Alibaba did not respond to comment…

The Verge attempted to verify if the 360 Browser was indeed censored and found that while the repository was accessible, the star feature was blocked. Qihoo 360 did not respond to a request for comment…

Tencent’s QQ Browser reportedly restricts access, but allows users to enter the page if they insist…  Tencent did not respond to a request for comment…

One source told The Verge that the browser block could likely be the result of individual company decisions aimed at quashing criticisms, rather than an order from the Chinese government, as the block only targeted a single page rather than a full domain…  [Also refers to Github, Xiaomi and Chrome]

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