back to article China's top e-tailer sends sacked staff a 'graduation certificate'

China's big tech companies are making deep job cuts, and at least one is framing them as "graduation" from the company. Reports of the job cuts have circulated for weeks, with Alibaba reportedly offloading more than 40,000 workers, and Tencent potentially losing around a tenth of its headcount. Ride-sharing company DiDi has …

  1. ghp

    What a heartless way to go about sacking people. They should've used video, as P&O did.

    1. Cederic Silver badge

      They probably had more onerous paperwork to complete - Dubai isn't renowned for its employment protections.

      At least the P&O workforce will be able to find other jobs. I fear China's going to have a massive issue if a significant portion of its new middle class find themselves destitute.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        The problem with the Chinese is that they don't have a word for entrepreneur?

        1. DreamEater

          "The problem with the Chinese is that they don't have a word for entrepreneur?"

          I thought that was the French?

        2. martinusher Silver badge

          They may not use the French term but all the Chinese I've worked for are entrepreneurial to the core -- they're always looking for an angle. This explains a large part of the 'copy' culture -- you've got upwards of a billion people going in all directions looking to make a buck (literally).

          Parked on top of this is the government structure. Although we in the West like to portray it as a monolithic state apparatus that minutely controls the lives of the Chinese the reality is more along the lines of "they wish" -- its more like their government's surfing a really big wave.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Those in the private tutoring sector – which Beijing banned on grounds that kids should not be forced to attend school and tutors"

    This is a wild exaggeration. The market tanked because the government introduced regulations on a market that was a crazy free-for-all, developing thanks to the social pressure put on parents to better educate their kids. That social pressure is difficult to imagine from outside China. It means kids, from pre-school age, were forced to study all the time, 12 hours a day, including weekends, because their parents are told it's the only way for them to succeed.

    So yes, companies made huge profits because of that. But trying to pass it as an evil government action is really ignoring the reality that those companies were literally profiting by putting kids' well-being at risk.

    The private tutoring sector still exists, and can still work. How do I know? My kid is still using it - less than one hour a week.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Perhaps you can explain how imposing additional regulation on a business that supplies a service in great demand addresses the cultural basis of that excessive demand. Other markets worldwide have taught us that demand will always be met, somehow, and that making it more difficult for transparent markets to meet it causes black markets to grow.

      1. Youngone Silver badge

        Lots of things are in demand, but governments (all of them) decree should be off limits. <br>

        You've described the US cocaine market.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Yes, that was certainly my intent (and while I am not an American, I assume you have phrased this with a conscious air of superiority; yet I am all but certain that your own country has similar laws and is a party to the asinine treaties governing not only cross-border sales of such drugs but also requiring internal prohibition -- so in all likelihood your smugness ill suits you as this failed policy is a global one). Recreational drug prohibition is a colossal failure. It has never come anywhere close to achieving any useful result. Why should the Communist Party of China, with near total control of every last bit of information their population receives, mimic the failed policy of an open society? As long as the unhealthy thing remains in demand, that demand will continue to be satisfied no matter how much additional harm is done in the process. And yet the Chinese are so quick to insist that they have better ideas, greater wisdom, than the "decadent West" or whatever words are used for the United States these days. Not that anyone should believe that, but in this case it would have taken so little to live up to it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "with near total control of every last bit of information their population receives"

            That's Party propaganda you're believing here. They sure wish they had total control, and they certainly hope people believe it.

            In actual fact, their control is very far from absolute, not to mention that the Party itself is not as monolithic as it wants to appear. Different factions and different regions have diverging ideas.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It seems you keep overlooking that we're talking here about a market aimed primarily at kids, including those below 5 year old.

        I'm rather sure that services and products aimed at kids (and particularly the youngest) are heavily regulated all over Western countries. They sure are here in the EU.

        Just because something is "cultural" doesn't mean it should let it be in the hope it will go away by itself. In the UK, corporal punishment, a cultural mainstay of education, didn't disappear by itself, but because it was banned. Binge drinking high school students shouldn't be left alone just because it's cultural.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Yet again you've deliberately misunderstood me.

          The product is not aimed at children; children don't have money. It's aimed at their parents.

          Yes, it is undoubtedly harmful to children to be spending 12+ hours a day studying. That's insane.

          Yes, China would almost certainly be better off if this practice were stopped.

          Yes, it's fine and probably reasonable to regulate what corporations can do to children. In some instances, it's absolutely necessary.

          The mistake lies in thinking that doing the latter will achieve the former. The parents still want their young children studying 12+ hours a day. If they cannot achieve this by the (lazy) means of hiring a legitimate corporation to "tutor" a child, they will achieve it in some other way instead. Large, legitimate corporations are visible and in China their owners and managers are visible; they are easy to regulate and easy to punish, even without the bother of due process. Other "tutors" may not be so visible and easily punished. When you take a large supplier out of the market, prices increase, and when prices increase so do the risks other suppliers are willing to take for them. Because those suppliers may already be violating the law, they are much more likely to be willing to violate other laws, too, especially if they know the people buying their services are also violating the law themselves and cannot go to the authorities. A black market has been born, with all its attendant problems: criminal suppliers, extortion, bait-and-switch scams, poor-quality product.

          None of this means the product shouldn't be regulated, only that regulating the *quantity* to be supplied is self-defeating. There is every good reason to regulate things like the quality of the educational service and, if instruction is in-person, exclusion of paedophiles and violent criminals from the environment. But if the problem is simply that people are buying too much of an otherwise acceptable product, the excessive demand must be destroyed at the source or nothing good will be accomplished. Indeed, not only will other measures fail to achieve the goal but additional harm will be caused as the market goes underground and creates entirely unregulated suppliers.

          This is not my opinion; it's simply what happens. Every time. Everywhere. You can accept human nature for what it is and find better ways to achieve your goals, or you can ignore it and create black markets. In this instance, even if you don't believe the Communist Party of China has enough cultural control to change parents' desires, it certainly has enough physical control to try a different tack: it could force children to spend a certain amount of time each day doing some particular thing other than studying. I'm sure the brilliant scholars of the Party could come up with much better ideas as well. In practice, it's probably necessary to do many things at once to effect this kind of change. But as long as the focus is on supply, they will fail.

  3. VoiceOfTruth


    The staff who were cut recently were presumably 'shipped'.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reminded me of...

    "When the cattle are just right, it's time for them to 'graduate' from Bovine University".

  5. Neoc


    I thought only Japanese Idols got "graduated" from their group?

  6. Shalghar Bronze badge

    Getting my coat in advance...

    As stupid and crazy as it might sound, if any job loss was actually connected to receiving a "graduation" letter or any other sort of written documentation what skills might have been learned at that job, i would actually appreciate that.

    Why am i so insane as to find something positive in that atrocity ?

    That might be because in germany, new employers tend to accept only certified skills and if you have the usual employer here, many skills will be taught in the company but without any means of documenting this. So having the former employer doing a "graduation" letter actually benefits your CV.

    Yes, german law dictates that any former employer must deliver a "qualifiziertes Arbeitszeugnis" on demand but as the law also states that this description of your former behaviour and skill at work must not be detrimental to finding a new job, many codified sentences and practices have evolved, either to actually warn prospective employers from a lazy goodfornothing or to get revenge on a former employee so the relevance and credibility of those documents is near zero.

    Then again, it is not typical chinese to use improper wording to disguise something, as any "sanitary engineer" or "facility manager" can confirm.

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