Search giant Google is under scanner for its unequal treatment of temporary workers and contractors who constitute 54 percent of the workforce.

Recurring employee protests are seeking equal treatment and action against sexual harassment.  

According to a  New York Times report, Google employs more temps and contractors in the workforce than full-time staffers. This has brought Google employee benefits under scrutiny.

The hiring of temps and not treating them with equal consideration negates the utopia of egalitarian workplace long parroted by tech companies including Google in terms of pay,  benefits, and perks.

The allegation is that the hiring of more temp staff is to cushion the bottom line.

As of March, Google’s payroll had roughly 121,000 temps and contractors (TVCs) around the world, compared with 102,000 full-time employees, according to an internal document accessed by the media outlet.

This means 54 percent of Google workforce is filled by temps and contractors.

Glaring discrimination

Though temps work alongside full-timers in Google, they are employed by outside agencies. Temps or TVCs get less money, different benefits plans and have no paid vacation time, according to former Google temps.

According to another report,  severe workplace discrimination exists between the two classes of workers. TVCs are forced to wear red badges for easy identification. A TVC said bitterly that wearing the red badge augments the shame of being a temp worker and a second class worker.

In April 2018, Google banned all TVCs from internal chat forums. Equal access to information was one of the main demands of the employee-walk out in November 2018.

Complaints also exist that many essential tools required in processing tasks are denied to temp workers. That precludes them from doing full jobs with perfection.

Protest against the two-tier system       

Google employee walkout in 2018 November had two main issues-sexual harassment and demand for fair treatment of employees.

The historic walkout protested the company's handling of sexual assault allegations that put many higher executives in the dock.

  “It’s time to end the two-tier system that treats some workers as expendable,” the organizers wrote on Twitter in March.

Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO did not respond to the demands of the contractors who sent an open letter demanding equal pay and better opportunities. 

In April this year, more than 900 Google workers signed a letter objecting to the treatment meted out to temporary contractors. The joint-letter was a “historical coalition”  between Google’s full-time employees (FTEs) and TVCs.

The letter had a trigger in the abrupt dismissal of 80 percent of a 43-person team of temp workers on the company’s artificial intelligence assistant unit.

Google reacted that it is working to change policies to improve work conditions of temps and contractors.

Following the protest, Google insisted that temp companies supplying temporary workers to it must provide them the desired benefits including $15 minimum wage and paid parental leave. However, those perks will come into effect only in 2020.