A group of Microsoft employees are calling for an online protest in China against twelve-hour hard working days that organizers consider unhealthy, illegal, and increasingly prevalent.
About 20 Microsoft employees signed an open letter Monday to support the so-called 996.ICU project in China.
China technicians launched the 996.ICU project on the GitHub codeshare site in March, which is owned by Microsoft. The numbers 996 refer to the concept of working six days a week from 9am to 9pm.
Such hours, workers say, are illegal in China, although they say many employers in the country expect this from their workers. The name 996.ICU refers to an ironic saying among Chinese workers: "工作 996, 生病 ICU" or "work of 996", ill in intensive care, "as in the intensive care unit of a hospital.
The project 996.ICU is a collection of alleged evidence of these working conditions and a new software license designed to endorse workers' rights, and in particular, software projects created under the terms of this license may not be used by companies that violate labor laws in the United States
Monday's letter was signed by a total of 50 tech people, including several from Google, and Microsoft and GitHub were asked not to remove the 996.ICU project from the GitHub site, Chinese Tencent browsers , Alibaba and others have already restricted or blocked access to the project 996.ICU, said the Microsoft employee
"We, the staff of Microsoft and GitHub, support the 996.ICU movement and we are aware of the solidarity with the tech workers in China. We know that this is a problem that crosses national borders. The same problems permeate full-time and part-time jobs at Microsoft and the entire industry, "the letter said.
The 996 schedule has become a controversial topic, according to Reuters, the co-founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, described the 996 Timeline as "blessing" for young workers last week.
A Microsoft employee who wants to remain anonymous informed Business Insiders that employees started this petition because they had done so, worried that Microsoft would be under pressure could censor the project as part of the alleged postponement of Tencent and Alibaba.
"We must assume that Microsoft and GitHub are being urged to remove the repository too," the letter said.
Die Microsoft and GitHub employees who have written the petition want to make sure that the project to sustain the project remains uncensored and for all is available, especially in China.
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Also developer outside China have supported this project. In less than a month, this project has received over 2,500 contributions from 533 developers. The project was also staged nearly 230,000 times – a way for GitHub users to show their support or interest in a project.
Standing in Solidarity
Pooya Parsa, an open source developer from Iran, helped translate the project into Persian. He said a timetable "996" was not common in Iran, but he had previously had some experience with the revision.
"I worked on such a schedule for 1 to 2 years, causing serious health problems and ceasing to focus on other things in everyday life such as family, physical health and even improving programming skills," Parsa told Business Insider , "Forcing or even enabling developers to work on such a schedule can be successful in the short term, but ultimately requires creativity, innovation, and motivation."
Read more: He led open source projects in the early days of Microsoft. Now he returns as GitHub's new Product Manager
With this letter, employees hope to make a more comprehensive statement about labor standards around the world.
"Another reason why we have to show solidarity with Chinese workers is the story that multinationals will erode workers in a race to the bottom as they outsource jobs and use weak labor standards for the persecution to ensure fair working conditions for all people around the world, "said the letter.