Google workers walk out in global protest over harassment

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Hundreds of employees walked out of Google’s European headquarters in Dublin on Thursday as part of a global campaign over the US tech giant’s handling of sexual harassment that saw similar protests in London and Singapore.

At Google’s Dublin campus, around 500 people walked out in chilly conditions but were reticent about speaking to the media.

Organiser Kate, who did not want to give her surname, told the crowd that she co-ordinated the Dublin walkout “in solidarity with anybody who has experienced any form of sexual harassment or misconduct in our workplace”.

She told reporters afterwards: “If even one person has experienced it, it’s important for us — for me — to show our solidarity and say that we don’t agree with that, and that it shouldn’t happen.”

A Google Walkout For Real Change account that sprang up on Twitter on Wednesday called for employees and contractors to leave their workplaces at 11.10am local time around the world on Thursday.

Tension has been growing over how the US-based tech giant handles sexual harassment claims.

Google said last week that it had fired 48 employees in the past two years — including 13 senior executives — as a result of such allegations, citing “an increasingly hard line” on inappropriate conduct.

It came after The New York Times newspaper reported last week that a senior Google employee, Android creator Andy Rubin, received an exit package worth $90m as he faced allegations of misconduct, and that Google had covered up other claims of sexual harassment.

Sam Singer, a spokesperson for Rubin, rejected the allegations against him in a statement to AFP, saying Rubin left Google of his own accord.

In London, hundreds of workers packed into the biggest room at their main office in protest and later headed outside.

“We’re walking out to support colleagues in any workplace that have suffered harassment and to ensure that perpetrators aren’t protected or rewarded,” Sam Dutton, a developer advocate, told AFP.