Jack Ma slammed for saying Alibaba workers need to work 12 hours a day, six days a week

Exploitative work culture in the tech industry lauded.

Belmont Lay | April 14, 2019, 03:39 PM

Jack Ma is getting criticised in China.

This was after he said workers in Alibaba need to put in 72-hour work weeks, six days a week, or else, they shouldn't even bother to be hired.

Where did he make the statement?

According to Bloomberg, Ma told an internal meeting that workers who survive at Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. will need to work 12 hours a day with one day off a week.

A post on Alibaba’s official Weibo account said the company does not need people who look forward to a typical eight-hour office lifestyle.

Ma's endorsement is seen as applauding the tech industry’s infamous 996 work culture: 9am to 9pm, six days a week.

“To be able to work 996 is a huge bliss,” China’s richest man said.

“If you want to join Alibaba, you need to be prepared to work 12 hours a day, otherwise why even bother joining.”

He previously said in a spiel in 1999 -- exactly 20 years ago -- that China tech companies can make it big in the world only by rejecting work-life balance: "If we have that kind of 8am-to-5pm spirit, then we should just go and do something else."

He was widely lauded for being a visionary for his efforts and for speaking his mind in that clip.

Reactions to Ma's statement

Big tech has been helping people, but also, it it has been slowly killing others in the process.

China's tech industry is littered with stories of workers dying young from working too much.

Which is why the billionaire's demands of his staff at China’s biggest e-commerce platform has received flak after it was made public.

As China is coming of age, overtime work culture being lauded is seen as a clear violation of workers' rights.

Ma's statements attracted intense reactions.

One commenter on Weibo -- China's version of Twitter -- wrote: “A load of nonsense, and didn’t even mention whether the company provides overtime compensation for a 996 schedule.”

“I hope people can stick more to the law, and not to their own reasoning.”

“We work 996 because we’re exploited without overtime compensation,” another comment said.

“The bosses do 996 because they’re working for themselves and their wealth is growing.”

Alibaba representatives didn’t immediately respond Bloomberg's request for comment.

Against exploitative work culture

Programmers in China have protested on the online code-sharing community Github in March, under the banner 996.ICU, lamenting exploitative work conditions.

The topic quickly became the site’s most popular issue.

The topic's creator, whose identity is unknown, called on tech workers to come forward with examples of companies abusing staff by demanding uncompensated overtime.

“By following the ’996’ work schedule, you are risking yourself getting into the ICU [Intensive Care Unit],” according to a description posted on the “996.ICU” project page.

Alibaba, and its financial affiliate, Ant Financial, were both named.

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