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Chinese journalists have drawn attention to a wave of dissatisfaction among the auto giant’s workers with their working conditions. It turns out that Chery is betting on a culture code-named 896: the working day lasts from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., every day, Monday through Saturday, and even those with a higher education are paid only 16 yuan per hour (US$2.2).

One of Chery’s new employees went viral with a post describing his schedule for May. He said he worked 120 hours of overtime in addition to the usual 174 hours. His salary was only 4,800 yuan ($660). Another Chery employee complained that the corporation forced him to work overtime, with meetings sometimes lasting until 10 p.m.

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Chery executives make no secret of the fact that the company’s policy encourages overtime. In particular, an internal letter contained the message that “Saturday is a working day for ambitious people.” However, after a wave of negativity on social media, Chery responded that the goal was Huawei’s corporate spirit, that is, conditions when those who want to work hard can do so.

The reality is different: overtime work has become de facto mandatory, and refusal can lead to dismissal. In some departments of Chery, even paid leave is prohibited.

Chinese journalists note that the problem concerns the automobile industry as a whole, not just Chery. In particular, almost all employers use social networks outside of working hours, meaning employees have to be online 24 hours a day.

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