Not even Covid-19 can get Google and Facebook to treat low-paid workers equally

A screenshot from saying
A petition is calling on Google to treat contractors fairly

The stark difference in the treatment of workers directly employed by Dublin’s tech giants and the lower-paid workers they keep at arms-length through third-party companies has come to the fore again.

The Times, which has been covering the story of the contractors for a number of years, today reports on the claims that Facebook and Google contractors are not being allowed to work from home like direct employees:

“People working as contractors for Facebook through Covalen have claimed that their requests to work from home have been declined, while Dublin Facebook staff now video-call them from home.

“Contractors who spoke on condition of anonymity said they had been allowed to work from home over Christmas and during big storms. The Facebook contractors said one manager told them to ‘chill’ when they said they could be at increased risk of infection.”

“Most of the contract workers for Covalen, who review Facebook content to ensure it complies with rules, are from overseas. Several staff are preparing to take unpaid sick leave rather than continue in the offices.”

Separately, a petition has been set up calling on Google to allow vendor employees work from home “like Google employees”. Although originally aimed just at Dublin, the petition has since been revised to cover the whole of Europe.

In 2018 The Times highlighted that while the average salary paid to staff employed directly by Google in Dublin was €94,590, the “content reviewers” employed through Accenture and paid through Hays could be on as little as €23,000 a year.