Developers’ lives matter — Chinese engineers protest on Github

TLDR; This is the “996.icu” site: https://996.icu/#/en_US where Chinese engineers protest about the 996 working schedule. The repo https://github.com/996icu/996.ICU is most trending on Github today.

I had a couple friends asked me about “996” working schedule in China long time ago. If you have never heard about it, it refers to the notorious working schedule — 9 am to 9 pm, 6 days a week.

There have been tons of discussions about 996 on Chinese forums. But something just went beyond discussions yesterday: Chinese engineers started protesting on Github after someone created a repo on github and hosted a website named “996.icu”. The repo now has over 80k stars on Github.

If you are not familiar about Github stars, here is a comparison: as one of the most popular web front end framework, React (open sourced by Facebook) has over 12k stars, which was released around 2015.

People cited Labor Law of the People’s Republic of China on the frontpage to point out 996 schedule is illegal. Besides, “developers’ lives matter” was added at the end of the page, which refers to the US activist movement Black Lives Matter. The community has been actively translating this page to other languages so that more people around the world can read and understand their situations.

I have never worked in China but I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I work for a company for 996. It’s very likely that I don’t have any time to indulge and enjoy my personal life. What’s worse is, I won’t have time to learn new skills and grow, to explore the world without much pressure from work. Besides this, most companies are not providing the extra compensation for working overtime — though according to China’s labour laws, the company should definitely compensate the overtime part, which should be paid more than regular working hours (40 hours per week).

This schedule has been gaining popularity in China recently. An announcemnt made headlines in many forum in early 2019: Youzan, a Chinese E-commerce company announced that they are going to adoption of the “996” work schedule, at the company’s Chinese New Year Party. The CEO refers this working schedule as a way to “reselect people who highly match company value of Youzan”. As the CEO puts, people who find work life balance important are apparently “not compatible with Youzan’s values”.

As a woman, I see how hard women were trying to stand out and push #metoo movements. As an engineer, this time I see how hard engineers are trying to fight for their rights: their rights to work for normal working hours, to have the opportunity to spend time with themselves, their friends and family…

Developers’ lives matter.

// I wish this protest on Github won’t end up with shutting down Github in China.