The “996” (72 hours of work per week) of tech factories in China finally deemed illegal by the authorities

Chinese factory JIANGXI April 2018 ©

The Supreme People’s Court of China takes a step in the direction of Chinese workers and employees by now deeming “996” illegal. This practice consists of encouraging, through overtime, working hours stretching from 9 am to 9 pm, six days a week.

Common in Chinese tech factories, this controversial practice should gradually be replaced by more regulated overtime from a legislative point of view. In particular, we learn from Reuters that the Supreme Court of China, but also the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security published new guidelines on the matter last Thursday.

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A form of moral pressure exerted on employees

As explained Reuters, if the Chinese authorities have based themselves on the case of a delivery company to demonstrate how the 996 technique is illegal, the latter unfortunately extends to a host of structures in China, to the point of almost becoming part of the mentality . We learn, for example, that in certain structures, employees agreeing to submit to such schedules are set up as models. A way also to depreciate those who, on the contrary, are reluctant to accept them.

Very controversial from a human point of view, the 996 nevertheless benefits the Chinese economy and its competitiveness, in particular against the United States, recently underlined the Briton Michael Moritz, venture capital investor for Sequoia Capital and former member of the board. administration of Google. The Chinese public debate, which has targeted this practice for almost two years, has however had the effect of calling it into question. Especially with regard to the technology industry.

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BiteDance leads by example

Last month, ahead of the measures taken by the authorities, the Chinese giant ByteDance, parent company of TikTok, had for its part indicated that it would cease from 1er August its weekend overtime policy. A decision that came two weeks after its rival Kuaishou, also specialized in sharing short videos, announced similar measures.

If a few large Chinese groups show the way and the rest of Chinese industry puts an end to these abusive overtime hours, it is reasonable to think that the resulting loss of productivity will benefit China’s rivals in the field of technological production. We are thinking in particular of players such as India, Thailand or Vietnam, which have already been able to take advantage in recent years of the economic tensions observed between the United States and China.

Source : Reuters

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