Alibaba’s Billionaire Founder Jack Ma Says Companies Forcing Staff to Work Overtime Are ‘Foolish’

He was giving an answer to a debate over the 996 schedule, this means working 9am to 9pm, six days weekly.

This story originally appeared on Business Insider

Alibaba Group founder and billionaire Jack Ma again weighed in on the Chinese tech industry’s gruelling overtime work culture on Sunday, this time around calling enforced extended hours “unsustainable.”

Ma’s comment followed his remarks on Thursday that working overtime is actually a “huge blessing” for young workers who found careers these were focused on.

He was giving an answer to a debate which has emerged in recent weeks among Chinese tech workers over the 996 schedule, this means working 9am to 9pm, six days weekly. Industry workers setup a discussion group called “996.ICU” on the code-sharing platform GitHub, suggesting that anyone working those hours constantly could result in a hospital intensive care unit with burnout.

“If you discover employment you prefer, the 996 problem will not exist; if you’re not passionate about any of it, every minute of likely to work is a torment,” Ma said in a post on his Weibo account on Sunday.

“Nobody likes working at a company that forces you to accomplish ‘996’. It’s not only inhumane, it’s unhealthy and much more unsustainable for long periods — plus workers, relatives and regulations usually do not approve of it,” he said. “In the long run, although you may pay an increased salary, employees will all leave.”

Ma added that companies that thought they could gain forcing staff to work overtime were “foolish” and doomed to fail.

However in a speech to Alibaba staff on Thursday, Ma said the business expected people to prepare yourself to work 12 hours a day because it had huge commitments to its clients.

“In the event that you don’t work 996 while you are young, when do you want to? Do you consider never needing to work 996 in your daily life can be an honour to boast about?” he said in the speech. “In the event that you don’t put out additional time and energy than others, how will you achieve the success you want?”

In the Weibo post on Sunday, Ma said: “Real 996 ought to be hanging out learning, thinking and for self-improvement. The individuals who stick to 996 will need to have found their passion there, and their happiness besides from money.”

Ma said he likely to be criticised for his views but he felt it had been necessary to discuss the problem.

A number of the comments on Ma’s post criticised him as out of touch, and for having little regard for his workers. “Only talk of spending so much time, but silent on wages — that is typical language utilized by individuals who exploit others,” read one comment.

A great many other Chinese tech giants attended under the spotlight because of their intense corporate culture. Senior executives at Huawei, Baidu and JD.com have previously urged staff to improve their working hours, become dedicated “strivers” and embody a competitive, fearless “wolf spirit.”

The other day, a WeChat post related to JD.com founder Richard Liu Qiangdong, commenting on reports of the web retailer’s intend to sack underperformers, said he’d not consider “slackers” as his “brothers.” He also known as for colleagues to become listed on him in striving for the business.

The ruling Communist Party’s mouthpiece also stepped in to the debate down the road Sunday, with a commentary in People’s Daily saying those that questioned 996 shouldn’t be “labelled.”

“Valuing effort does not mean forcing employees to work overtime,” the commentary said. “You need to not attach the moral labels of ‘slackers’ or ‘not ready to strive’ to employees who are against 996.”

In addition, it criticised the culture of mandatory overtime as unhealthy and inefficient.

Alibaba owns the So