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Staffer Quits Tencent in Protest After Company Awards Intense Overtime

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On January 26, the team behind Tencent’s WeCom, a Slack-like office collaboration platform, announced its in-house awards for the fourth quarter. However, the remark accompanying the award for one of the recipients has once again put the tech giant under fire for its notoriously demanding work culture.

The team commended the employee for “working 20 hours nonstop to make sure WeCom could launch the marketing page on time.” According to screengrabs circulating on social media, Zhang Yifei, a WeCom team member and recent graduate, challenged the company about the principle behind the comment.

“I just want to ask, is WeCom going to go bankrupt for pushing back the internal testing for one day?” Zhang asked the managers in a company group chat with 600 people. “Do developers have to work overtime for 20 hours to make you happy with the product? Do you even care about the lives of workers when you assign work?”

tencent overwork

Zhang Yifei challenged Tencent’s overtime work culture in a company chat group. Screengrab via Weibo

At the end of the message, Zhang wrote that he would resign the next day.

Although his supervisor later reached out to him and vowed to combat the overtime work culture in the company, Zhang still quit the job.

According to Zhang’s statement, which circulated on Weibo, he believed his resignation would “encourage other young people in the company to speak up and expose the company’s unreasonable policies.”

He added that he had received several supportive messages from other Tencent employees.

“I admire your courage,” one wrote, “There were times when I was angry, but I was too scared to speak up.”

The hashtag for the story has accumulated more than 640 million views on Weibo, where netizens overwhelmingly supported Zhang’s decision to voice his concerns.

“He is a real warrior. He speaks up for those who are scared to do so,” one posted.

“We are not against working hard,” a netizen wrote, “We just need to be clear about who and what we are working hard for.”

Back in mid-December, the death of a Tencent game engineer triggered discussions about labor abuse at the company.

This incident is yet another example that though the statutory working time is eight hours a day and no more than 44 hours a week, major companies in China still demand excessive working hours.

Cover photo: Screengrab via YouTube

Kayla He
    Born and raised in China, Kayla received her BA in Communications and Public Service from the University of Pennsylvania. She currently works as a staff writer at RADII and is passionate about telling stories related to social issues women's empowerment. You can find her exploring coffee shops in Shanghai in her free time or rushing for Duffy and Friends plush toys at Shanghai Disneyland.
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