November 13, 2019

Jack Ma defends ‘truth over correctness’ as overtime work routine comment evokes online fury

The co-founder of Alibaba Group expanded on comments he made last week that were aimed at dismissing young employees, who expect a typical eight-hour office lifestyle. Ma identified the industry’s ‘996’ work schedule, which refers to a twelve-hour workday over six days a week, as a “huge blessing” for young workers, sparking international social media outrage.

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“As I expected, my comments internally a few days ago about the 996 schedule caused a debate and non-stop criticism,” the billionaire executive said in a post on his Weibo account on Sunday.

“I understand these people, and I could have said something that was ‘correct’, but we don’t lack people saying ‘correct’ things in the world today, what we lack is truthful words that make people think.”

At the same time, Ma criticized “foolish” corporations that are putting their employees under pressure, making them work overtime. The businessman, who started as an English teacher, believes that under such conditions workers will leave, even if they get a higher salary.

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“No one likes working at a company that forces you to do ‘996’. Not only is it inhumane, it’s unhealthy and even more unsustainable for long periods – plus workers, relatives and the law do not approve of it,” he wrote.

“If you find a job you like, the 996 problem does not exist; if you’re not passionate about it, every minute of going to work is a torment,” Ma stressed.

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