MICROSOFT IS the latest company to be on the receiving end of a protest by its own employees, this time over its working conditions in China.
A protest which began on the Microsoft-owned code repository GitHub under the name "996.ICU" talks of workers doing 12 hour days (9am-9pm), six days a week, and ending up in Intensive Care - hence 9-9-6-ICU.
After the campaign went viral amongst the overworked tech workers of China, it prompted a very vocal opposition in the country, which is pretty unusual in a place that generally suppresses such independent thinking.
That was until GitHub decided to block the campaign.
In response, 30 Microsoft colleagues have written an open letter to their bosses calling for it to be reinstated.
"We have to come together across national boundaries to ensure just working conditions for everyone around the globe," begins the letter.
It's a totes-awks situation for the tech giant which has a number of agreements that allow it to operate in China. Most Western social media tools are blocked in the country, but GitHub remains unblocked, allowing it to be put to alternative uses.
The last thing Microsoft wants to do is annoy the Chinese, who would quite happily get shot of them from its borders if not in complete blind compliance. However, both Microsoft and Google have seen revolts from its home employees in recent months, with some workers even quitting if they don't get their way.
It means that if the campaign continues to gain ground, Microsoft will have to choose between its Chinese operation and its Western employees, which will prove uncomfortable at best.
Microsoft has already been banned in China once, and it was widely reported that Windows would eventually be completely banned in the country, before an eleventh-hour deal saw a customised version was introduced for citizens, as part of a wider deal that has seen multiple services like Azure Cloud rolled out behind the Great Firewall. μ
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