Tuesday 11 December 2018

Google CEO urged to boost conditions for contract staff

'It's the latest example of Google employees speaking out, at a time when it is being criticised for its handling of sexual misconduct, contracts with the US military and a plan to build a censored search engine in China.' Stock photo: Reuters
'It's the latest example of Google employees speaking out, at a time when it is being criticised for its handling of sexual misconduct, contracts with the US military and a plan to build a censored search engine in China.' Stock photo: Reuters

Gerrit De Vynck

A group of Google employees has written to CEO Sundar Pichai demanding better conditions for the thousands of contractors who make up more than half of its workforce. Last month, Alphabet overhauled the way it handles allegations of sexual harassment and assault, but the updated policies largely left out temporary, vendor and contract workers.

Yesterday, a group of full-time and contract workers sent a letter to Mr Pichai asking for that to change. They also listed other requests, such as access to company-wide emails and town hall staff meetings, better health care and benefits, and a more transparent process for applying for full-time jobs. "We will continue to be mistreated and ignored if we stay silent," the workers wrote in the letter. "Google has the power - and the money - to ensure that we are treated equitably."

It's the latest example of Google employees speaking out, at a time when it is being criticised for its handling of sexual misconduct, contracts with the US military and a plan to build a censored search engine in China.

Some Google employees and outside activists believe the company, which is on track to make more than $30bn in profit this year, can easily afford to treat everyone who works in its offices the same. In July, Bloomberg revealed that earlier this year, for the first time, temporary, vendor and contract workers made up more than half of the company's total staff. The workers, known internally as 'TVCs', do all sorts of jobs, from serving meals and piloting self-driving cars, to writing code and managing teams. Unlike full-time workers, they aren't given stock, and many struggle with inadequate health care. They aren't allowed in some buildings, or at certain meetings. Several TVCs interviewed recently by Bloomberg News described feeling like second-class citizens. They asked not to be identified for fear of losing their jobs.

Bloomberg

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