Google em­ploy­ees to join first tech trade union

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Technology Intelligen­ce - By Han­nah Boland

STAFF from Google and other big dig­i­tal com­pa­nies are set to join Bri­tain’s first tech trade union, amid grow­ing em­ployee ac­tivism.

The United Tech and Al­lied Work­ers was launched yes­ter­day, as a branch of the Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Work­ers Union, with the aim of “rep­re­sent­ing and fight­ing for work­ers’ in­ter­ests in the tech in­dus­try”.

About 30 peo­ple are al­ready thought to have joined the union from com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Sam­sung, Google, Ama­zon and Mi­crosoft.

Or­gan­is­ers said they were ex­pect­ing at least 100 peo­ple to sign up over the next few months. The cre­ation of the

UK’s first tech union fol­lows grow­ing un­rest among dig­i­tal work­ers over is­sues such as safety and dis­crim­i­na­tion – pri­mar­ily in the US.

Dur­ing the spring of this year, Ama­zon’s US ware­house em­ploy­ees staged protests over work­ing con­di­tions which they claimed were putting their health at risk.

Ama­zon re­sponded by say­ing it had put in place safety mea­sures across its sites, in­clud­ing pro­mot­ing so­cial dis­tanc­ing and more fre­quent clean­ing.

Google has been hit by a se­ries of walk­outs across the world, most no­tably in 2018 when an es­ti­mated 20,000 staff took part in a protest over claims of sex­ual ha­rass­ment and gen­der in­equal­ity. At the time, Sun­dar Pichai, Google’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, said the com­pany would sup­port those who took part in the protests, adding that it took a “hard line” on sex­ual mis­con­duct.

More re­cently, tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies have faced ac­cu­sa­tions they are muz­zling staff.

Mark Zucker­berg, the Face­book chief ex­ec­u­tive, told em­ploy­ees last week he only wanted them to ex­press their views on a spe­cial area of the com­pany’s in­ter­nal mes­sag­ing plat­form.

Face­book said: “We deeply value ex­pres­sion and open dis­cus­sion.

“What we’ve heard from our em­ploy­ees is that they want the op­tion to join de­bates on so­cial and po­lit­i­cal is­sues rather than see them un­ex­pect­edly in their work feed.”

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