Pinduoduo pulls out of CNY Gala after overtime work scandal

36Kr has revealed that Pinduoduo has withdrawn from its partnership with CCTV’s 2021 Spring Festival Gala. Shown on the eve of Chinese New Year, the Spring Festival Gala features music, dance and comedy performances and is the most-watched TV show of the year globally. Red envelopes with money and discounts which can be redeemed on the partnered platform are given out to viewers during the gala. 36kr’s sources indicate that Douyin will replace Pinduoduo as the exclusive provider of red envelopes for this year’s event.

Pressure from CCTV’s owners China Media Group following recent backlashes online reportedly led to group buying platform Pinduoduo withdrawing from the gala. This is the first time that CCTV has replaced its partner for the Spring Festival Gala and the decision will damage Pinduoduo’s reputation and brand image.

Pinduoduo has been swamped in controversy as of late. News earlier this month that a 23-year-old employee died of cardiac arrest due to overworking kicked off a media storm. This week, the company’s name re-emerged as an employee was fired for anonymously posting a picture of a colleague being taken away in an ambulance online. Management found out that he had uploaded the picture by nonconsensually checking his phone and fired him for spreading negative stories about Pinduoduo. He later posted a video on Weibo detailing his ordeal and explaining how the company exploits employees.

Another young male employee committed suicide at home on January 8, 2021. Although the reason for his death is unclear, friends have come forward about the extent of overtime he was expected to work and the impact it had on his health. These recent events have kicked up a storm online with many netizens criticising the expectations to work long hours in internet companies.

Pinduoduo is one of several of China’s tech giants renowned for its overtime work culture which goes beyond the increasingly common “996” schedule (9 am until 9 pm six days per week). The company has a day shift which lasts from 7 am to 11 pm and a night shift from 7 pm to 7 am. Following a night shift, employees have to return to work at 3 pm the next day and are expected to do one every two weeks.

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