Electronics tech giant denies accusation after screenshots of employee venting fury on overtime request goes viral online
Published: Apr 05, 2023 05:52 PM
Beijing subway Photo: Li Hao/GT

Beijing subway Photo: Li Hao/GT

Screenshots of an employee from a Chinese state-owned electronics technology company scolding his supervisor went viral online since Tuesday, during which the employee vented anger over excessive hours and workload. The company later denied the employee belonged to the group.  

The case soon began trending on Chinese social media platforms as it once again resurfaced debate over the brutal "996" work culture with many netizens hoping that it could be a chance for employers to genuinely implement employee rights for time off. 

On Wednesday afternoon, China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC), a state-owned electronics technology giant, said a man who scolded his supervisor over excessive overtime was in fact not an employee from the corporation, and the company involved also doesn't belong to CETC. 

CETC's response came after chatting history on WeChat of the employee, surnamed Chen, reportedly from the Chengdu branch of the CETC, began to circulate online since Tuesday. Chen's fury was triggered after his supervisor asked him, and another employee to work on Tomb-sweeping Day, or Qingming Festival, a designated holiday in China, which falls on Wednesday this year. 

The supervisor surnamed Dong said in the screenshot that the shift was available to "to sign up voluntarily," and saw no show of hands, he then tagged Chen and another in a group chat. 

Chen's anger did not stop at just refusing to work on the holiday. He went on to vent out his anger about working overtime in the company, scolding his supervisor of asking them "work at 8am until 11pm or even 1am next day." "Did I sign a work contract or an indenture of selling myself?" Chen was seen in the screenshot as saying.

After Chen's long speech full of anger, another colleague also stepped in and submitted their resignation. According to screenshots available online, a total of 23 employees from Chen's department resigned.

A spokesperson from the headquarters of CETC in Beijing told the Global Times on Wednesday that the company has verified the WeChat chatting history, found out that neither Chen, nor the company he worked at, belongs to the CETC. The corporation vowed to hold those spreading false information accountable. 

It was reported that Chen had already resigned from the company as of press time. After the exchange went viral online, workers' unions in both Chengdu and Sichuan, the province where Chengdu is located, intervened to investigate. Representatives from the Sichuan workers' union vowed to take measures protect workers'rights. 

The incident soon attracted public attention, and became the top search on China's Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo on Wednesday, with 140 million reads as of Wednesday afternoon. Netizens overwhelmingly supported Chen taking a stand against the "toxic work environment," and hailed Chen's words in the group chat really helped them "release our anger."

In an editorial from the Beijing Evening News, it said that for years, all industries are calling for letting employees really enjoy holidays, and oppose toxic working schedules such as brutal "996" work culture. Yet such phenomena have not changed. Chen has brought hope to netizens that this incident could be a chance for employers to really implement the rights for employees to enjoy vacations.