On Thursday 1 November, thousands of Google workers staged an international walk-out to protest against the company’s handling of sexual harassment. Thousand of workers from cities as far apart as New York, London, Berlin, Zurich, Singapore, Tokyo and more, took part. Many of them took to the streets, or gathered in squares and parks holding placards with slogans like “O.K. Google, really?”.
The action followed revelations that Google had paid millions of dollars in exit packages to male executives found to have committed sexual harassment and had covered up the incidents. Most notably Google had paid Andy Rubin, the creator of the Android mobile software, a $90 million exit package, despite the company finding that sexual harassment allegations against him were credible.
The organisers of the walkout produced a list of demands, calling on Google to change how it handles sexual harassment cases, including an end to its use of private arbitration in such cases, the publication of a transparency report, further disclosures of salaries and compensation, an employee representative on the company board, and a chief diversity officer.
While the global strike was not co-ordinated by any union in particular, Unite in the UK has been organising Google workers at offices in London. Unite said about the strike: “We applaud the principled stand taken by Google workers in London and across the world today (Thursday 1 November) over how the company tackles allegations of sexual harassment.
“The employees are rightly demanding key changes in how sexual misconduct allegations are dealt with at the tech giant, including a call to end forced arbitration — a move which would make it possible for victims to sue.
“Unite the union began organising and recruiting Google staff in London six months ago and membership continues to grow.”