Living to work: Chinese workers begin to protest

Every discussion about our public services is peppered with references to working conditions.

Those references are invariably negative, suggesting conditions are more demanding and less rewarding than they need to be.

Though hardly a valid, entirely helpful comparison, a glimpse at the working arrangements pushing China to become the world’s dominant economy are as sobering as they are challenging.

After enduring appalling conditions for years, Chinese tech employees are beginning to fight notoriously long hours, known as the ‘996’ schedule of working from 9am to 9pm, six days a week.

The appropriately-named Ant Financial, an Alibaba affiliate, is listed as having a ‘9106’ schedule — starting at 9am, ending at 10pm, for six days a week.

Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of Alibaba, one of the companies included on an exploitation blacklist, called the 996 schedules “a huge blessing” and said workers should consider it an honour, rather than a burden.

It is easy to dismiss this enslavement as irrelevant to us, but, as China becomes an ever more powerful force all around the world, is it wise?

More on this topic

Hong Kong officials grilled over police brutality at extradition bill protest

Hong Kong leader apologises over extradition bill

Rescue efforts under way after fatal China earthquake

Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong released from prison

More in this Section

How do you talk to children about murder?

Climate change proposals: Our survival depends on huge change

Tories choose Brexit over NI: True blues show true colours

Majella Moynihan was punished because we wanted her to be


Large and ambitious collaboration at Midsummer Festival

Mark Ronson: Groove is in the heart

Question of Taste: Olivia O'Leary chooses her favourite poets, music and films

Whatever happened to Duncan James from Blue?

More From The Irish Examiner