The better part of the previous year (and this year so far) has seen numerous companies and startups reduce their workforces and lay off thousands of employees. The tech sector has been among those to have suffered the brunt of the blow – last year, 965 tech companies laid off more than 150,000 employees across the globe. And now, it seems that employees are no longer having it.
Google, which survived the majority of the economic slump only to acquiesce last month, witnessed a chunk of its employees stage a walkout in protest to the proposed layoffs in a demonstration of solidarity towards the employees fired by the company worldwide. According to media reports, 250 employees from the Alphabet subsidiary staged a walkout in Zurich on Wednesday. The reason for doing so is a simple one – in protest of the tech titan’s decision to cull its global workforce by about 6%.
The employees, who make up just 5% of the nearly 5000 workforce that Google possesses in Zurich, called upon the company to engage in talks with an employee committee (something that is dictated by Swiss law) and pursue alternative avenues instead of firing hundreds of employees. With support from trade union Syndicom, the Zurich-based employees staged the walkout before lunchtime, walking away from their desks and assembling with placards outside one of two Google offices in the Swiss city, according to union spokesman Dominik Fitze.
“We at Google are in favor of good working conditions. Mass layoffs in the absence of economic hardship are not acceptable,” a Google employee known to Syndicom said. “We know this is an uncertain time for our employees and we are working hard to share updates as soon as we can in line with local labor law,” a Google spokesperson commented on the matter. “However, given the ongoing process, we are not in the position to comment further on the matter.”
In case you missed it, the layoffs at Google have sent shockwaves across the tech industry. Last month, its parent company announced its intentions to reduce its workforce by approximately 12,000 roles (both in the US and in other countries). At that time, it provided the impacted employees with a severance package that started at 16 weeks’ salary plus two weeks for every additional year at Google (and accelerate at least 16 weeks of GSU vesting), all the bonuses, and remaining vacation time from last year and more.
The demands of the workers in Zurich were simple. They demanded that the company engage in dialogue with workers to consider and examine alternatives to job cuts, as well as provide support for foreign nationals whose residency is tied to their employment. Other demands included a commitment from the tech giant company to refrain from further job cuts, Fitze added.