Google in talks with contractors on conditions for content reviewers

Tech giant forced to defend its hiring practices in Dublin

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Google’s Velasco building in Dublin on Thursday with Fionnuala Meehan, head of Google, and Gareth Morgan of Google cloud sales. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Google’s Velasco building in Dublin on Thursday with Fionnuala Meehan, head of Google, and Gareth Morgan of Google cloud sales. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Google has begun talks with contractors over working conditions for staff engaged as content reviewers for the company.

The tech giant was forced to defend its hiring practices following a report that contractors working in its Eastpoint Business Park building in Dublin whose recruitment is managed by Accenture and who are paid by recruitment firm Hays were receiving less than the living wage.

The Sunday Times report claimed the workers, who were monitoring content on Google AdWords and YouTube, were being paid as little as €23,000 per year, which works out at around €11.06 per hour.

“The work that is being done, it’s important,” said Google Ireland head Fionnuala Meehan in an interview with The Irish Times.

“Everyone working for Google, we take an interest in their well being, particularly in roles like this, and we demand the highest standards from our contractors. We will be looking to address the concerns that have been raised.”

She said anybody doing content monitoring for Google had access to on-site counselling, the company’s “wellness” programme, and an anonymous helpline.

Cloud hub

Google now employs 7,000 people in Dublin, about half of whom are contract employees. That figure is set to grow as the internet giant opens its new cloud hub in Dublin.

The company said it planned to add to its cloud computing team, which will be based in the Velasco building in Dublin’s Grand Canal area. The company has capacity to add more than 300 people.

As part of the team Google will open an advanced solutions lab in the building, allowing customers to develop customised solutions for their business with Google’s experts.

Velasco is the seventh building in Google’s Irish campus, bringing to €809 million the investment it has made in Ireland. The move into the Velasco building comes as Google focuses its attention on cloud, a growing area for the firm.

Ms Meehan said she was excited about the opportunity the opening of the cloud hub presented for Ireland.

“It’s a great day for Google Inc, and a great day for Google Ireland. Dublin and Ireland is at the forefront of one of the most exciting areas under the Google umbrella.”

New investment

The building was officially opened on Thursday by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who welcomed the new investment, describing it as “another milestone in a long, prosperous, mutually beneficial relationship between Ireland and Google”.

“I think it is evident from the success of Google that Socrates was right, when he said that the secret of change was to focus on building the new and not in trying to change the past. With each and every advance we build something new and change what is possible in the future.”