Socialist Worker

Google staff stage walkouts to demand firm does more to tackle sexual misconduct

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2629

Google workers walked out in Dublin

Google workers walked out in Dublin (Pic: @GoodbyeWaves/Twitter)


Workers at Google staged walkouts across the world from 11.10am on Thursday in protest at how the firm handles allegations of sexual misconduct.

Workers walked out at offices in Singapore, Tokyo, Berlin, Dublin and London. Big numbers gathered in Zurich, Switzerland, on the street for the walkout. Google workers in India struck at offices in Gurgaon, Mumbai and Hyderabad.

Kate, a Google worker in Dublin, told the crowd the walkout was “in solidarity with anybody who has experienced any form of sexual harassment or misconduct in our workplace”.

“I wish to create a space for all of us to gather together and show our support for doing whatever it takes to eliminate such awful behaviour,” she said.

Organisers expected over 1,500 people, mostly women, to walk out across nearly two dozen Google offices around the world.

Google boss Sundar Pichai last month admitted that 48 employees have been sacked over the last two years over sexual misconduct allegations.

The letter to workers said the 48 included 13 senior managers. It said the firm was taking an “increasingly hard line” on sexual misconduct. But workers disagree.

Google staff met indoors in London to discuss harassment at work

Google staff met indoors in London to discuss harassment at work (Pic: @hoitab/Twitter)


The New York Times recently reported on the departure of Andy Rubin from Google in October 2014. It said the firm gave him a “hero’s farewell” – and a £70 million exit package.

Yet a Google worker had accused Rubin of sexual misconduct, and a Google investigation had found her claim “credible”. Rubin’s lawyer said he denies the allegations.

Disgusted

A statement from strikers said workers are “disgusted by the details of the recent New York Times article”.

It denounced Google’s “culture of complicity, dismissiveness, and support for perpetrators in the face of sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse of power”.

“Sadly this is part of a longstanding pattern, one further amplified by systemic racism,” it added. “We know this culture well. For every story in the New York Times, there are thousands more, at every level of the company.

“Most have not been told.”

Workers say the problems with sexual harassment “go all the way to the top” of Google. “Reassuring PR won’t cut it,” they said. “We need transparency, accountability and structural change.”

Strikers have five demands. These include an end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination and a commitment to end pay inequality.

Workers also want a “publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report” and clearer processes for reporting misconduct.

Strikers stressed the need to take action for workers on temporary contracts too. “We know that it can be more difficult for other workers to stand up,” their statement said.

“We stand in solidarity with the temporary and contract workers at Google, but we encourage everyone to take collective action.”


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