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Tech Workers Are Sick of '996,' China's Version of Hustle Culture

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Credit: BBC

Rank-and-file tech workers in China, discouraged by a weakened job market and downbeat about their odds of joining the digital aristocracy, are organizing online against what in China is called the "996" culture: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week.

For years, Chinese tech employees have worked hours that make Silicon Valley's workaholics seem pampered. Now they are naming and shaming employers that demand late nights. Some programmers are even withholding their creations from companies that they think overemphasize 996.

"Ten years ago, people rarely complained about 996," said Li Shun, a former employee at the search giant Baidu who left to found an online medical start-up. "This industry was booming once, but it's more of a normal industry now. There are no more giant financial returns. Expecting people to work a 996 schedule on their own like before isn't realistic."

Unusually for China—where independent labor unions are banned and the government comes down hard on populist movements it doesn't control—the movement is gaining traction.

Even Chinese state media has called on employers to ease back.

From The New York Times
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