Google workers in Zurich stage walk out after layoff of 200 colleagues

Hundreds of Google workers walked out Wednesday in Zurich, Switzerland.
• The protest came after 200 workers were laid off following the cuts announced in January.
• Thousands of staff offered to have their wages and hours reduced to avoid job losses, a union said.

Hundreds of Google workers walked out of its Zurich office Wednesday in protest over mass layoffs that resulted in about 200 people losing their jobs in Switzerland.

The IT union Syndicom, which represents some Google employees, announced the walkout in a blog post, saying employees called on the company to “engage in dialogue with workers to thoroughly and seriously examine alternatives to layoffs.”

Those who walked out at 11 a.m. local time rallied behind the slogan: “We walk out for those who can’t walk back in.”

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More than 200 employees in Switzerland were let go as part of the 6% reduction to its workforce that Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai announced in a January memo. The cuts resulted in about 12,000 job losses globally.

A Syndicom representative told Insider in a statement that Google rejected a proposal from about 2,500 employees who offered to reduce their wages and working hours to avoid job cuts in Switzerland.

“Our members at Google Zurich and all employees joining the walkout are showing solidarity with those laid off,” the representative said.

The union highlighted what it called the “intransparent procedure” of the layoffs, which came despite the company “making billions in profit every year.” Google’s parent company, Alphabet, made a net profit of almost $60 billion last year.

A Google representative told Reuters that job cuts had been made to reflect the company’s priorities: “The consultation process has now concluded in Switzerland and employees whose roles were impacted have been notified.”

Workers at the Zurich office also staged another walkout last month when the layoffs were first announced, Reuters reported.

It’s not the first time Google staff have taken such action. In November 2018, about 17,000 workers walked out in what appeared to be the first coordinated global action at a major tech firm, following claims of sexual harassment, gender inequality, and systemic racism at the company.

Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider, made outside normal working hours.

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