“996”won’t go far!
Imagine you wake up with a startle as the alarm goes off shrilly.
Imagine you are stuck in a traffic jam, fidgeting behind the wheel, after a grab of breakfast.
Imagine you are faced with piles of documents, sweating when there comes an emergency.
Imagine how desperately you wish for the noon break.
Imagine how exhausted you feel after working overtime, lying on bed and waiting to wake up to another day.
How on earth do all these feel like?
For the first day, it might be a novel experience. The first month, a settled lifestyle. The first year, a tiring routine. The first decade, an unbearable suffering. One’s whole life, a deadly venom. So as for me, in a short term, it won’t hurt to try it, but in the long run, it will kill me to bear it.
Never can we deny the spirit of diligence lying behind the overtime workers. But this does not mean that we should implement an overtime schedule for everyone.
Overtime culture, otherwise known as 996 in China, actually dates back to the 1980s in Japan, where it was celebrating an economic prosperity, blessed with the booming financial industry. Under such circumstances along with a rapid increase of the middle class, the confidence of ordinary Japanese people burgeoned and peaked, which went hand in hand with the firmest-ever belief that hard work would lead to success, which spread throughout the society.
Agitated by the profit-desiring employers, people from all walks of life seemed to consider working overtime a noble virtue, a glorious behavior, and a sign of one’s positive attitude towards one’s career and life. But nothing is more absurd than that.
Men are born with the natural rights to rest and entertain as well as the freedom to stay unassailed from exploitation. Reasonable as the 996 may have sounded in such a competitive era, the overtime culture not only goes against the basic principles of the Labour Law of the People’s Republic China, but also against a travesty of the national values we share -- respect of human rights and adoption of the people-oriented approach.
The so-called voluntary overtime work might be a lie since most employees are doing that out of necessity not a willing choice. Under the significant peer pressure you have no alternative but to join those who work overtime. And that’s how the 996 catches on.
In terms of individual employees, first of all, they would be regarded as wrong when they reject to work overtime; secondly they take it for granted that their leisure and private time is under the control of the company; last but not least, they forget that life is not just about surviving humbly in the present, but also about melodious poetry and the beautiful strawberry fields in the distance. We can or must strive and struggle, but, if we have to do it at the cost of health and joy with family, it is far from worthwhile. Refusing to work overtime would sometimes be labeled as laziness, but that’s unfair. We need breaks and holidays to come to rescue of our exhausted mind.
Young as I am, I intend to remind adults of the value of rest, health and time with family and friends. Working overtime is not the only --or even the right-- way of striving, and diligence is something we possess in our hearts rather than something we show to others. Please remember when you are suffering from work, over the hills and seas beyond are the beauty you’ve never met. There’s a new world out there for you to explore.