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Google staffers stage a walkout protesting against Company’s effort to build AI for Pentagon, moving operations back to China among others…

by Felix Omondi
google walkout

Google employees and contractors in New York briefly staged a walkout at midday following complains of unchecked executive power at the workplace. There were also claims of racism and sexism.

Leakage news reaching the tech world seem to indicate that something could be boiling up at Google top management. One that if not checked might just erupt and send the world most popular search engine/ most popular browser/ most popular digital advertisement and mobile OS producer company into a tailspin.

It is being reported that Google is planning on moving back its operation to China; something the current U.S. government administration is fervently against. There are also claims, the company is very much interested in securing a government contract, which will see top brains at Google work to build a super Artificial Intelligence (AI) system for the Pentagon.

It has become apparent that over the years, Google’s employees have grown to have a voice in the day-to-day running of the company. This time around, the people that actually hold managerial titles have a differing opinion about the direction the company will take from those of their junior staff.

Those not in managerial position want the company to keep on moving its base of operations outside China. Not to build a super AI network for the U.S. government, and have everyone’s voice in the organization count in decision making.

This situation has forced the company’s CEO to remind everyone who is the boss and has the final say. Last Thursday, he reminded everyone that he was still in charge and will no longer be constantly swayed by the staff uprising.

During a conference in New York last Thursday, Pichai said, “There are many good things about giving employees a lot of voice, out of that we have done well…” He also said that “We don’t run the company by a referendum.”

Obviously, this news coming out of Google seems shocking to most of us; the outsiders. However, people more enlightened to the internal workings of the company say the situation is not as intense as it may appear.

Google, with its over 50,000 full-time staff across the globe has had a more transparent culture compared to other big corporations around the world. If anything, it is one of the best employers in the world; though thousands of these employees and some contractors did stage a walkout last week.

Some of the employees in the walkout claim there were some sexual harassment in the company and they were not pleased by the way the management handles such complaints. For instance, there are claims that Android creator, Andy Rubit got a $90 million payout after leaving the company on the accusation of sexual harassment. Google came out to rubbish these accusations saying it does not give payouts to employees that got fired.

There is also the other matter of US politicians giving heat to the company for its decision to pull out of a contract it had with the military to build an AI network. Though Pichai was quick to point out that Google still has many other contracts with the US military.

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