Do you believe that Google’s January mass shootings are still going on? With Google reportedly mishandling its biggest round of layoffs ever, workers are up in arms, doing everything from walking off the job to sending angry letters to management.
First, European Google workers are being laid off right now because of the January announcement. Reuters reports that more than 200 employees were laid off at the Zurich, Switzerland branch this week. Employees at that office walked out a second time in protest of the move and even offered to take layoffs or cut hours to avoid job cuts. However, Google’s layoffs appear to be motivated by a desire to appease the stock market, so it’s not surprising that these offers fell on deaf ears.
Many of the Swiss workers who walked out in protest are members of Syndicom, the IT workers’ union, and a union spokesman told Reuters: “Our members at Google Zurich and all the workers involved in the walkout show solidarity with those who have been laid off. They are disturbed by the transparency of the layoffs and are particularly disappointed that Google is laying off workers at a time when the company is making billions in profits every year.”
Current and former employees feel that Google is cruel in the way it treats employees who were on sick or parental leave at the time of the layoff. CNBC reports that Google has decided not to honor pre-approved leave for laid-off employees. Some Googlers formed a group called “Laid off on Leave,” which is trying to get Google to stick to previously agreed-upon schedules for employees going through major life changes.
Getting Google to honor its previous leave agreements isn’t just about paying employees if they have medical or family issues. it’s also about continued medical care when they need it most. As part of Google’s (seemingly abandoned) plan to provide employees with every benefit imaginable, the company has on-site medical facilities that many employees use.
Although employee severance packages may include a few more months of health insurance, termination means an immediate loss of access to Google facilities. If the laid-off Googler’s primary care doctor works there, he’s out of luck, and some employees told CNBC they lost contact with their doctors as soon as the layoff email arrived. Employees on vacation also have a lot to do. One former Google employee, Kate Howells, said that Google let her out of her hospital bed shortly after giving birth. He worked for the company for nine years.
The group Laid off on Leave points out that Google does not measure the image it presents to the world, saying: “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 recognize the difficulties that continue to disproportionately affect women in the workplace.”
Another group of Google employees sent an open letter to CEO Sundar Pichai, asking the company to continue hiring people during sick leave, freeze new hires during the layoff process, and prioritize hiring laid-off employees in the future. The letter also asks Google to ensure that the firings do not discriminate against anyone and that the company protects workers facing humanitarian crises by firing workers with visas from Ukraine or Russia. So far, more than 1,300 Google employees have signed the letter.