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Google workers stage global walkouts over sex misconduct

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SAN FRANCISCO/DUBLIN More than 1,000 Google employees and contractors in Asia and Europe staged brief midday walkouts yesterday, amid complaints of sexism, racism and unchecked executive power in their workplace.

In a statement on Wednesday, the organisers called on Google parent, Alphabet, to add an employee representative to its board of directors and internally share pay-equity data. They also asked for changes to Google's human resources practices intended to make bringing harassment claims a fairer process.

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said in a statement that "employees have raised constructive ideas" and the company was "taking in all their feedback so we can turn these ideas into action".

Hundreds of workers filed out of its office in Dublin, while organisers shared photographs of hundreds more leaving offices in London, Zurich, Berlin, Tokyo and Singapore.

"I haven't experienced harassment myself, but if even one person has experienced it, it is important for us, for me, to show our solidarity," said one of the workers who organised the walkout in Dublin.

Irish employees left a note on their desk. It said: "I'm not at my desk because I'm walking out with other Googlers and contractors to protest sexual harassment, misconduct, lack of transparency and a workplace culture that's not working for everyone."

The demonstrations follow a New York Times report last week that said Google in 2014 gave a US$90 million (S$124 million) exit package to Mr Andy Rubin after the then senior vice-president was accused of sexual harassment.

SUBSTANTIVE ACTIONS?

Walkout organisers said: "While Google has championed the language of diversity and inclusion, substantive actions to address systemic racism, increase equity, and stop sexual harassment have been few and far between."

They said Google must publicly report its sexual harassment statistics and end forced arbitration in harassment cases. They requested the chief diversity officer be able to directly advise the board.

- REUTERS

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