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Google Employees Urge CEO Sundar Pichai To Handle Job Layoffs More Effectively

March 18, 2023
minute read

As Google parent Alphabet revealed plans to eliminate 12,000 positions, over 1,400 employees signed a petition demanding improved treatment of employees throughout the layoff process.

Employees made a series of demands of the company in an open letter addressed to Chief Executive Sundar Pichai, including freezing new hires, seeking voluntary redundancies before compulsory ones, giving laid-off workers priority for job vacancies, and allowing workers to complete scheduled periods of paid time off, such as parental and bereavement leave.

The workers also urged Alphabet to refrain from firing employees from countries with current wars or humanitarian situations, such as Ukraine, and to give further assistance to individuals who face losing their visa-linked status as well as their jobs.

"The consequences of Alphabet's choice to downsize its workforce are global," according to the letter. "Nowhere have workers' voices been effectively considered, and we know that we are stronger together than alone as workers."

The petition comes after Alphabet announced in January that it will lay off approximately 6% of its workers in response to investor pressure to slash expenditure in the post-pandemic slump. Meta Platforms, Amazon.com, and Microsoft are among the other major behemoths that have reduced personnel in recent months following years of expansion and recruiting.

Alphabet's representative did not immediately respond to the petition. On Jan. 20, Pichai announced the job layoffs in an email to employees, saying that the business had hired for a "different economic reality than the one we confront today" and that he accepted "full responsibility."

Although some Google employees, notably in the United States, were laid off quickly, the process has been significantly lengthier than in other nations with greater labor laws, such as those found in Europe. Googlers in Switzerland, for example, just found out who was laid off this week, prompting a walkout on Wednesday.

A group of employees organized the letter, which was endorsed by unions such as the Alphabet Workers Union, United Tech and Allied Workers, and UNI Global. It arose from talks on a Discord channel that was set up after the job layoffs were announced.

Many labor organizations have helped organize petitions in response to layoffs at various Google entities and in different regions.

Several of those who signed the petition told Trade Algo  that they are concerned that the legal consultation processes in certain nations have devolved into a box-ticking exercise. Staff feedback to management, including survey results in which workers showed interest in volunteering for redundancy or reduced hours, they claim, has not been taken into account.

The employees want to distribute the petition for a few more days before handing it over to Pichai at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Cathy Hills
Associate Editor
Eric Ng
John Liu
Editorial Board
Bryan Curtis
Adan Harris
Managing Editor
Cathy Hills
Associate Editor

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