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996.ICU accuse Tencent, NetEase and others of illegal crunch

Published: 12:37, 24 April 2019
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These past few years have shown a different side to the gaming industry and if you thought it's reserved for the US or European game developers, then think again, as reports came out of Chinese devs like Tencent and NetEase doing the same.

The initiative is called 996.ICU, which is actually a reference to the work schedules that have been gaining in popularity but they hope to eradicate, i.e. working from 9am to 9pm, 6 days a week. 

"The name 996.ICU refers to "Work by '996', sick in ICU", an ironic saying among Chinese developers, which means that by following the "996" work schedule, you are risking yourself getting into the ICU (Intensive Care Unit)", says the official description.

In practice, this results in 60+ hour weeks, which is actually against the law. Nevertheless, it has been reported in numerous Chinese companies, including the publishing giant Tencent, NetEase, Alibaba and others. 

Labour Law of the People's Republic of China clearly that "The State shall practice a working hour system wherein labourers shall work for no more than eight hours a day and no more than 44 hours a week on the average."

996.ICU's website lists the legislative exceptions to this law, which are well detailed and stipulate no more than 36 hours of overtime monthly, and even that is "under the condition that the health of labourers is guaranteed". Needless to say, 60+ hour weeks do not comply with the law.

Moreover, Chinese tech workers have been using a GitHub repository to document their claims and share evidence of the wrongdoers in this case.

Note that the repository has been there since for a while but there's been a large uptake in 996.ICU reports in 2019, which pretty much proves that it's becoming a widespread practice.

It has been reported that Chinese browsers, many of which are ironically made by the aforementioned companies, have started blocking access to one of the fastest growing GitHub repositories in the service's history.

Tencent Games Logo of Chinese game developer Tencent Games Tencent Games

One thing is for certain - the crunch is fast becoming a global issue that must be addressed before we turn game development into a no man's job. 

Thanks GamesIndustry .

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