Rallying around the slogan “we walk out for those who can’t walk back in,” roughly 400 – 500 Google employees in Zurich left their workplace in protest at 11 am Wednesday. The company announced the layoffs one day before, 14 March. The walkout was organized by Google Zurich members of syndicom, a UNI Global Union affiliate.
The workers say the company did not adequately consider Google staff’s proposals to avoid the dismissals, which were widely supported. The employee representation committee put forward several alternatives in the consultation process to avoid the layoffs. The company did not accept any of them. For example, 2,500 employees of Google in Zurich indicated they would be willing to voluntarily reduce their working hours.
Google employees involved in the walkout show solidarity with the laid-off workers in Switzerland and worldwide. They are upset about the opaque procedure and the fact that Alphabet Inc., which owns Google, is laying off five percent of the company despite billions in profits. The company has not yet convincingly explained the economic necessity.
The employee representation committee, advised by syndicom, is now in talks with Google to negotiate an extended social plan. The social plan must contain specific measures to further reduce the number of employees affected and to find new employment as quickly as possible.
Benjamin Parton, Head of UNI’s Information, Communications, Technology and Related Services sector said, “Google is one of many tech companies treating workers unfairly and arbitrarily, and these layoffs show why tech workers around the world are organizing. In Zurich, we saw that workers came together to present viable layoff alternatives that went unheeded. We stand in solidarity with the syndicom members who walked off the job today and with the Google workers who were so cruelly laid off. The company can—and should—do better.”