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996.ICU: Chinese Activists Use GitHub to Organize & Protest

Accepted submission by Anonymous Coward at 2019-04-12 16:30:47 from the Work Labor Employment dept.
Career & Education

'How GitHub became a bulletin board for Chinese tech worker complaints', https://qz.com/1589309/996-icu-github-hosts-chinese-tech-worker-complaints/ [qz.com]

"For years China’s white-collar tech workers have been some of the most privileged in the country—and were prepared to put in any number of working hours in return. Now, as the economy slows and tech giants announce layoffs, pent-up anger over working hours is bubbling over.

The most prominent protest over work hours is the 996.ICU project launched at the end of March on Microsoft’s GitHub code-sharing community. In days, the attempt to catalog companies who demand a 996 schedule—9 am to 9 pm, six days a week—became the site’s most book-marked or “starred” project, racking up more than 190,000 stars.

“By following the “996” work schedule, you are risking yourself getting into the ICU (Intensive Care Unit),” says the “996.ICU” project description, whose creators aren’t known. It calls on tech workers to add names and evidence of excessive hours to a “blacklist,” proposes requiring companies to agree to an “anti-996 license” as a condition for using open-source software, and urges people to “go home at 6 pm without feeling sorry.”

Media reports on deaths of young tech workers from heart attacks have also raised concern about the deep-seated culture of overwork, even though it’s unclear whether they were related to work stress.

“The overwork culture is rooted in China’s tech industry. I worked 996 for nine months. During that time, I had serious insomnia due to the high pressure. So, I quit, ” said GitHub member Zhang, a former software developer who put a star on the project to show his support.

Zhang, who asked to be identified only by his last name, said putting the anti-996 complaints on GitHub made sense for tech workers—it’s a place they naturally gather, and more importantly, it’s not blocked in China given its usefulness to developers and tech firms alike. “If you protest on Weibo or WeChat, more likely it will be controlled by either tech companies or the government,” he said."

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Hooray for Chinese software developers!

I totally appreciate burnout. As a UNIX systems and network administrator for over thirty years, I've been on call for more than half my entire life span. It's had a serious impact upon my health and relationships, including my relationships with employers - whom always assume I am at their complete disposal and threaten me with retaliatory unemployment when I am not.

Nowadays, they want me to do this while working for them, on a temporary basis, for wages that I haven't seen since the 1980s or 1990s. Seriously. It's like there's a Cold War against workers.

Nothing less than a state of war could explain the burning desire of today's employers to insure that I and my dependents never have an opportunity to go to college or live in a home of their own ... never mind, have a vacation, somewhere, or a second, vacation, home - for emergencies.

Do you know a single person in any urban area who can afford to have a spare bedroom for emergency guests? We, as a country, have NO emergency capacity. We have NO flexibility. We have our backs against the wall. Why is this?

It's sad that American workers are too gutless and spineless and devoid of innovation to conceive of such a protest, and have to look across the seas, to mainland China, for organizational inspiration, so as to solve our local labor problems.

What we need is a 'Yelp' for employees.

But where does the revenue come from?

Soylentils, put your minds to work. What do YOU think?


Original Submission