New complaints from China’s tech employees have surfaced about another, more demanding, work schedule. This time it is about one of China’s most high-profile startups.
In a post that has since been deleted on professional networking platform Maimai, employees of Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial discuss a work schedule even harsher than the widely criticized 996, which refers to working from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week.
“I can’t bear the days at Ant Financial anymore. It’s been non-stop ‘10-12-6,’” an anonymous user wrote in a post dated June 6. “I worked on the May 1 holiday and again on Dragon Boat Festival. And I feel bullied working with a bunch of people who “fling black pots’ at each other, snatch opportunities, and take credit for them… I’m really tempted to just quit and find another job,” the user added. “Fling the black pot” is internet slang that means to blame someone else.
The anonymous employee referenced “10-12-6,” a work schedule of 10 a.m. to 12 a.m., six days a week that is a play on the infamous 996 work schedule which sparked an online protest against China’s tech firms after the post on GitHub went viral in March.
Pressure to overwork seems to fall on those that work in the core business unit. “The core financial business unit’s work hours are the longest, and has no limits whatsoever,” another anonymous user wrote as a comment under the original post. One other anonymous user complained that Ant Financial often held late-night work meetings.
“Ant is really disgusting. I’m already looking for another job, ready to quit. Now I’m just trying to pass the time at work. I don’t have to worry about this year’s 3.25 anyway,” another Maimai user commented, referring to Ant Financial’s performance evaluation system’s rate of 3.25, meaning the employee “failed to meet expectations.”
However, a few users disagreed with claims of overwork, saying that the users were exaggerating. “That’s nonsense. I get off work at around 9 p.m. every day, and I don’t work on weekends,” another user commented.
On Sunday, another Ant Financial employee wrote in a post (in Chinese) on Maimai soliciting career advice. Addressing another user who disparaged comments from users complaining about working past 8 p.m., an Ant Financial employee commented under the post, “It’s always been 10-12-6, do you want to try it out?”
Following the public outrage sparked by the GitHub post, China’s state-owned media Xinhua News Agency condemned the 996 work schedule, saying that such work hours are illegal according to the labor law. Still, the harsh work practice has been endorsed by some high-profile supporters.
Alibaba was not called out in the original viral GitHub post, which named retail giant JD.com and e-commerce platform Youzan for adopting the 996 work practice. However, Alibaba’s billionaire founder Jack Ma sparked controversy in April when he commented on the 996 work culture, saying that to be able to work such long hours “is a huge blessing.”
Employees from Microsoft, which owns Github, circulated a petition asking the company to protect Github after reports that the repository was being blocked from certain Chinese browsers. The petition also included a statement of support for Chinese tech workers.
A campaign to send official copies of China’s labor law to the Alibaba headquarters was launched on GitHub in reaction to Ma’s comments, which soon gathered support from more than a thousand users.