Google Employee Who Was “Harassed” Unless He Agreed to a Separation Agreement Reveals “The Goodness of Japan” After Being Offered Resignation | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Google Employee Who Was “Harassed” Unless He Agreed to a Separation Agreement Reveals “The Goodness of Japan” After Being Offered Resignation

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On March 8, people from the Google Japan Union took direct action against Google Japan. GOOG” stands for “Google” in the stock market.

In January of this year, Google, a big tech company in the U.S., announced that it would lay off 6% of its employees in each country, sending shockwaves around the world. In the U.S., some employees lost their jobs and access to the company overnight, while in Japan, a labor union was formed and some employees have remained with the company despite being “advised to resign. The union has already requested a second round of negotiations, but no date has been set for the next round. What is the difference between the U.S. and Japan? What is the difference between the U.S. and Japan?

In March of this year, Japanese employees were also subject to layoffs. Frank (pseudonym, in his 30s) received an e-mail informing him that he was included in the 6%. It said, “Your position is also included in the 6%.

Please sign the release agreement within the next two weeks. Thank you for your past contributions.”

The email did not explain that the consent was “voluntary” and did not use the word “termination.” Frank was concerned about the nuance, as if he had already agreed to leave.

He said, “For me, agreeing to resign was not an option, so I asked what would happen if I did not sign the agreement. Then the person in charge said, ‘If you sign, you will get a full severance package and other benefits, but if you don’t, I don’t know what will happen. ‘ I figured that was part of the strategy.”

There was another strategy on Google’s part.

The interview that prompted the separation was conducted not with Google LLC, but with a representative of Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting, LLC.

The representative further responded that if I ignored the two-week deadline, I would be “harassed by several people ” to sign on.

However, when Frank pointed out that he thought it was against the law to be harassed for not complying with a resignation recommendation, the other party assured him that this was so.

At first, he was surprised to find himself the target of the harassment, but a ray of hope came when he heard that a labor union was being formed at the same time and that workers were protected under Japanese labor law. Even foreign-affiliated companies doing business in Japan must operate in accordance with Japanese laws, including the Labor Standards Law, the Occupational Health and Safety Law, and the Labor Union Law.

Frank had no intention of agreeing to leave his job, so he decided to join the labor union. He joined the Google Japan Union, which had already been formed, and in March he went to the collective bargaining session.

At the collective bargaining session attended by about 50 union members, the union demanded that the union not recommend resignation or dismissal to its members. The union also pointed out that the company would not choose any means to force a resignation agreement, which would be illegal under Japanese labor law because it would constitute harassment.

Frank was told that the company would leave no stone unturned to secure an agreement, but he refused to accept it because he was convinced that the company would not be able to force him to do so, at least not under duress. For the two weeks leading up to the deadline, he endured daily e-mails. The number of e-mails pressing for an agreement increased as the deadline approached. He also received an e-mail from the company’s human resources manager wishing him success in his new job, as if he had already agreed to it.

Of course I was stressed, but I had expected this, so I was not surprised. I told myself that I would endure it for the next two weeks, and I did my best. I was also a union member, so I knew I was legally covered. I made up my mind early on and tried not to bend on my decision.”

Thanks to his efforts, Frank is still working at the company after the two-week deadline has passed.

However, employees who refused to sign the separation agreement were removed from their responsibilities and placed in jobs that were not commensurate with their work history and skills.

CEO Sander Vichai holds a workshop at Google’s headquarters in the U.S. in June, to see how well he understands the current situation of employees who have been recommended for retirement (Photo: Afro).

Frank’s own responsibilities include handling issues from private clients. It is the kind of work that would be outsourced to a company of another nationality. Frank protests that it is “not appropriate for a full-time employee working at Google’s headquarters,” but he is determined to make the most of the opportunity. Since some of the team members are union members, they discuss how they will “support each other and show our strength in union activities and other activities where we can.

The team, made up of employees who refused to leave the company, does not share the floor with other employees and is isolated. They receive no information about team events, employee exchanges, or events planned in conjunction with visits from the company’s upper management, nor do they receive business updates, and they are excluded from participating.

The company says this reassignment is temporary, but there is no explanation as to how long it will last or what will happen after that.” The company may be waiting for us to leave voluntarily to make us uneasy. I think most people would feel stressed out in the absence of a time line being given. Their goal is to make us feel insecure, so we try our best to settle down as best we can to things beyond our control.”

In a situation of complete exclusion, it is hard to see any movement within the company. Frank reads that the company’s strategy is to make people feel insecure by forcing them into a situation where they cannot see the future.

Even in this difficult situation, they are able to secure the same amount of pay, even though they are not satisfied with the work they do, because they are in a country with complete labor laws and protected union rights.

When we confirmed with Google LLC that it had sent an e-mail to employees who wanted to seek an agreement to leave their jobs, and that it had outsourced the task to “Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting LLC” if it wanted to interview the employees in question, the company replied, “Details of our organizational structure are The response was limited to, “We do not disclose the details of our organizational structure.

Furthermore, with regard to one employee who was advised to leave the company and was responded that if he ignored the e-mail notice “to sign within two weeks,” he “would be harassed by multiple people,” the company replied, “We have not confirmed such a fact. Those who wish to resign on their own or those who have been sent a separation agreement (by the company) may also speak with a full-time Human Resources employee if they wish to do so in person,” he added, “Google has strong policies and work rules that prohibit inappropriate or otherwise illegal behavior, etc. If you wish to speak with a full-time Human Resources employee, you should contact the Human Resources department. If such allegations are made, we will investigate and take decisive action if a policy violation is confirmed,” he responded.

CNN on March 21, which reported that Google’s headquarters notified many employees of their termination via e-mail.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., where mass layoffs were also announced, the corresponding employees were laid off immediately.

Google’s CEO notified employees in an e-mail dated January 20 that 12,000 of all employees would be targeted for layoffs. According to reports, some of the targeted employees in the U.S. who were undergoing medical treatment or childbirth and delivery also received merciless emails recommending their resignation.

However, in EU countries such as France and Germany, where it is virtually impossible to unilaterally dismiss employees in the absence of consultation with worker representatives and unions, the dismissals have not been immediate, such as by soliciting voluntary resignations and consultations at labor committee meetings.

Observing the situation in other countries, Frank said he did not expect that the company would take action to dismiss workers in Japan as well.

If I had been in Singapore or the U.S., I would have lost my job at the company’s insistence. I am at least able to fight back, and that is what makes me feel empowered. Of course, I also feel helpless about things that are out of my control. It’s no surprise that many people feel this way when they lose their job. If you lose both access to your job and the job itself, just overnight, you feel incredibly helpless. I feel blessed that I am at least able to continue to fight alongside my union members.”

In its early days, Google had an “employee-centered” culture, valuing its employees like family. According to CNN, the first letter sent to shareholders by founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 2004 stated, “Our employees, whom we call Googlers, are everything to us. Over time, “we will be increasing benefits rather than gradually reducing them,” because “Googlers are all we have. But as the company grew, the sense of this diminished and it became more bureaucratic, the source said.

Because the company has developed into such a global enterprise, there is a global exchange of information among employees. Frank will never forget the surprise of his American employees when they heard his story of how he was able to keep his job even though he had been recommended for retirement.

While he hopes that the program will provide an opportunity to learn about labor laws and the power of labor unions, to learn about workers’ rights, and to explore avenues to fight for them, Frank questions the idea of seeing his company and his job as his own identity.

Some people see the company as being concerned about the welfare and mental health of its employees, as if they were family.” For those who identify themselves with the company and tie their self-worth to the company, it must have been an eye-opener to the reality that overnight the company gave up on them. Ultimately, a job is just a job, and companies cut people off the moment they think they are useless guys. Google seems to be imposing the American imperial method on the rest of the world, be it in working conditions or business. Is that right? In the first place, the laws, rules, and customs of the country in which the company operates should be followed.

Currently, the Google Japan Union has filed a second round of collective bargaining, but no progress has been made over the past several months as the company has been presenting its conditions for accepting collective bargaining.

  • Interview and text by Chie Matsumoto

    Journalist. She mainly covers issues related to social justice, including human rights and labor. She is co-author of "Mass Media Sexual Harassment White Paper" (Bungei Shunju) and "Manga de Wakaru Black Kigyo" (Godo Shuppan), and co-translator of "Striking China" (Sairyusha), which will be published in January 2021 as a joint translation of "The Power of Change that Moves the World: The Power of Black Lives Matter. Message from the Co-Chairman of Black Lives Matter" (Akashi Shoten) in January 2021.

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