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15 Jan 2021

Lily Kuo and Lily Kuo, Washington Post (USA)

China: Tech giant Pinduoduo's new employee death prompts calls for boycott

"New employee death at Chinese tech giant Pinduoduo prompts calls for boycott" 12 January 2021

One of China's largest e-commerce giants, Pinduoduo, is facing calls for a boycott after an engineer died by suicide — the company's second death in less than two weeks — amid accusations of harsh work conditions.

Pinduoduo, an online deals platform responsible for minting the country’s second-richest man, has become a lightning rod for public anger over the grueling hours common in China’s tech industry, known as the “996” schedule of working from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week.

Pinduoduo said an employee — it gave only a last name, Tan — jumped to his death in his hometown of Changsha in central China on Saturday. The company said Tan, in his 20s, had asked for leave from the Shanghai-based platform on Friday without giving a reason and traveled home that same day.

The company said it had sent a team to Changsha and expressed “profound sadness” over Tan’s death.

“To support our employees we are setting up an internal channel and dedicated team to provide psychological counseling and consultation services for emergencies,” Pinduoduo said in a statement.

Tan’s death follows that of a woman in her 20s named Fei who collapsed while walking home from a long shift on Dec. 29. She died after six hours of first-aid treatment, and although the cause of death has not been released, critics seized on the case as an example of consistently inhumane treatment of those working in the tech industry. [...]

Part of the following timelines

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

Pinduoduo worker's death sparks online fury over long working hours