Editor’s note: Some days ago, Chinese IT workers posted their protest against the so called 996 work schedule. US workers of Microsoft and GitHub –a website owned by Microsoft where the Chinese IT workers posted their protest – have now issued a statement in support of the Chinese workers. We are re-posting this statement, which has been signed by 336 workers, including some from China, here.
Tech workers in China started a GitHub repository titled 996.ICU, a reference to the grueling and illegal working hours of many tech companies in China – from 9am to 9pm, 6 days a week. “By following the ‘996’ work schedule, you are risking yourself getting into the ICU (Intensive Care Unit),” says the 996.ICU GitHub project description. The project calls for Chinese tech companies to obey the labor laws in China and the international labor convention.
This initiative has garnered massive support within China. GitHub users have been starring the repository as a way of showing their support. In the span of a few weeks, the project has been starred over 200,000 times, making it one of the fastest growing GitHub repositories in the service’s history.
The code-sharing platform GitHub, owned by Microsoft, is a place for developers to save, share, and collaborate on software projects. Most important for the 996.ICU movement is that GitHub is accessible in China. It is the dominant platform for developers to collaborate and is a crucial part of Chinese tech companies’ daily operations. Since going viral, Chinese domestic browsers, such as those by Tencent and Alibaba, have restricted access to the 996.ICU repository on their web browsers, warning users that the repository contains illegal or malicious content. We must entertain the possibility that Microsoft and GitHub will be pressured to remove the repository as well.
In response to these events, we, the workers of Microsoft and GitHub, support the 996.ICU movement and stand in solidarity with tech workers in China. We know this is a problem that crosses national borders. These same issues permeate across full time and contingent jobs at Microsoft and the industry as a whole. Another reason we must take a stand in solidarity with Chinese workers is that history tells us that multinational companies will pit workers against each other in a race to the bottom as they outsource jobs and take advantage of weak labor standards in the pursuit of profit. We have to come together across national boundaries to ensure just working conditions for everyone around the globe.
We encourage Microsoft and GitHub to keep the 996.ICU GitHub repository uncensored and available to everyone.
336 tech workers*
To other tech workers and industry supporters, we urge you to join us in our support of the 996.ICU movement.
To add your name to the list of supporters, make a pull request with your name and affiliation, as you would like it to appear on the list of signatories. Make sure your signature is entered alphabetically into the list. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org with this information and we can add it for you. Read more about adding yourself as a supporter here.
* We launched this petition publicly at the same time that we announced it within Microsoft. We will be updating the number of signed employees periodically as signatures are added.