Google sacks ‘Thanksgiving Four’ amid crackdown on employee activists
Google has been accused of attempting to prevent its workers from organising after firing four employees over Thanksgiving.
The workers, who are being called the “Thanksgiving Four”, had their contracts terminated on Monday in a move which an internal memo at Google claimed was about securing the company’s data.
According to Bloomberg, which saw the memo, supporters of the dismissed staff have complained that they were fired because of their support for protests at the company.
It comes as Google hired an anti-union firm called IRI Consultants to advise the company’s management on dealing with the growing number of protests at the company.
IRI Consulting’s website advertises services including “union vulnerability assessments” and claims to have prevented staff at a US healthcare company from unionising.
Last Friday, more than 200 staff at the company staged a demonstration at the company’s San Francisco offices at which two of the Thanksgiving Four spoke out.
Those two, software engineers Rebecca Rivers and Laurence Berland, were put on leave earlier this month for allegedly violating company policies.
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Google claimed one of the women had searched for and shared confidential documents which weren’t pertinent to their job, and the other had looked at the individual calendars of other employees.
However, their supporters allege that Google is punishing the pair for speaking out about the company. In a statement on Twitter, Ms Berland wrote: “This isn’t really about me, or Rebecca, or any individual.
“They are retaliating against us because they want to intimidate everyone who dares to disagree with leadership. They want us afraid, and they want us silent. Not going to work, not going to happen.”
Last year, Google employees at offices around the world staged a walkout over the treatment of women at the company after sexual misconduct claims were made against several senior figures.
The protest – dubbed Walkout For Real Change – was organised a week after The New York Times published a number of allegations surrounding high-profile workers at the technology giant.
Meredith Whittaker, one of the Google employees who led global walkouts at the tech giant over sexual harassment claims, also left the company alleging that it had retaliated against her for her activism.
There was additional criticism of the company after reports it wasseeking Chinese government approval to launch a mobile search service called Dragonfly, which would censor some websites and search terms in support of the Chinese Communist Party.
Following protests, Google announced it had terminated the project in July 2019.
If you are a Google employee who would like to get in touch with Sky News, you can contact reporter Alexander Martin using the private messaging app Signal on +44 (0)7970 376 704.