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Google laying off more 'second class citizens'?

Contractor cuts rumored

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Google is laying off contractors as well as full-time employees in multiple offices across the US, according to a new report.

Citing multiple anonymous sources, Silicon Valley WebGuild reports that the company is laying off a "large number" of sub-contracted employees and full-time employees who manage such contractors.

According to the report, the layoffs have hit Google offices in Seattle and Kirkland, Washington as well as the company headquarters in Mountain View, California. Web Guild also says that Google is closing entire offices in Michigan and Texas.

Apparently, the Mountain View layoffs "will begin" with technicians supporting desktops, portables, and servers within the company. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

WebGuild reported similar Google layoffs in November, and though WebGuild's headline was a tad misleading, Google eventually confirmed that it was cutting an unspecified number of contractors. It should be said, however, that Google co-founder Sergey Brin had alluded to such layoffs in an earlier story by the San Jose Mercury News.

At the time, Google said its contractor workforce numbered 10,000, or about half of the company's full-time staff.

According to former Google employees speaking with The Reg, Google contractors are treated rather differently from full-timers. One ex-Googler calls them "second class citizens." For example, a former employee tells us, contractors are not allowed to attend the company's famous TGIF weekly get together, where full-time employees are (ostensibly) given the right to ask Larry and Sergey any question they like. And, the former employee says, contractors must pay for the world-renowned Google shuttle bus.

Google's fiscal second quarter ended on June 30. Though the company's financial results continue to defy a shrinking economy, this hasn't come without significant spending cuts. In March, following its fall contractor cuts, the company actually laid off about 200 full-time sales and marketing staff.

In mid-January, it jettisoned 100 recruiters while murdering or semi-murdering several online services, including Google Catalog Search, Google Video, Google Notebook, Google Dodgeball, and Google Mashup Editor. Then in February the company killed its radio-ad biz, cutting around 40 full-time employees.

WebGuild also reports that Google has muzzled its laid-off employees. But this is no surprise. Google has an Apple-like obsession with corporate secrecy:

All sources said that they had signed “tight” secrecy employment agreements with Google and were not in a position to speak to co-workers or third parties about their employment, employment terms, pay, terminations, layoffs and any other work that relates to Google. They also cannot organize with other employees to mount class action lawsuits or side with labor unions against Google.

Many of the employees said that they had given up full-time jobs at other Fortune 500 companies to go work for Google. Apparently, they were lured by the "Do-No-Evil" motto. They said they believed that "Do-No-Evil" was a real policy but quickly learned that it was a marketing trick.

A marketing trick? You don't say... ®

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