Would you believe Google’s January mass layoffs are still ongoing? Google’s reported abuse of its biggest-ever round of layoffs has employees in a frenzy, and they’re doing everything from quitting to sending angry letters to management.
First of all, European Google employees are about to be laid off as a result of the January announcement. Reuters reports that more than 200 workers at the company’s office in Zurich, Switzerland, were laid off this week. The employees at this office went a second time to protest the move, even offering cuts in wages or working hours to stave off the downsizing. However, Google’s layoffs appear to have been driven by a desire to calm the stock market, so it’s not surprising that these offers fell on deaf ears.
Many of the Swiss workers who went to protest are members of IT workers’ union Syndicom, and a union spokesman told Reuters: “Our members at Google Zurich and all employees joining the strike are showing solidarity with those who have been made redundant and the opacity of the layoffs and are particularly disappointed that Google is laying off employees while the company is making billions in profits every year.”
Current and former employees believe that Google is cruel to employees who are on sick leave or maternity leave during the layoffs. CNBC reports that Google has decided not to grant pre-approved leave to laid-off employees. Some Googlers formed a group called Firing on Vacation to try to get Google to meet its previously agreed deadlines for employees going through major life changes.
Getting Google to honor its previous furlough agreements doesn’t just mean paying employees when they have medical or family issues. it’s also about having continuous medical care when they need it most. As part of Google’s (seemingly discarded) plan to offer employees every conceivable benefit the company has medical facilities on site which many employees use.
While employees’ severance packages may come with a few more months of health insurance, a layoff means immediate loss of access to Google’s facilities. When a fired Google employee’s family doctor works there, that person is out of luck, and some employees told CNBC that the second the firing email arrived, they lost access to their doctors. Even those on leave have a lot to deal with. A former Googler, Kate HowellsShe said she was released from her hospital bed shortly after giving birth to Google. She worked for the company for nine years.
Noting that Google is failing to live up to the image it is projecting to the world, the group Laid off on Leave says: “Google is currently demonstrating its commitment to the workplace and its participation in Women’s History Month through various product and service campaigns. We agree with you: it is very important to recognize the hardships that still disproportionately hit women in the workplace.”
Another group of Googlers posted an open letter to CEO Sundar Pichai, who urged the company to continue hiring during sick leave, freeze new hires during the layoff process, and prioritize reinstatement of laid-off employees in the future. The letter also calls on Google to ensure the layoffs do not discriminate against anyone and that the company protects employees facing humanitarian crises by not firing employees with visas from Ukraine or Russia. So far, over 1,300 Googlers have signed the letter.
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