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Google employees urge Pichai to handle job cuts better

March 17, 2023
minute read

More than 1,400 employees at Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, have signed a petition calling for better treatment during layoffs after the company announced it would cut 12,000 jobs.

Employees made a number of demands of the company in an open letter to CEO Sundar Pichai, including freezing new hires, seeking voluntary redundancies before forced ones, giving laid-off workers priority for open positions, and allowing workers to complete scheduled paid leave periods, such as parental and bereavement leave.

The workers urged Alphabet to refrain from laying off workers from nations that are embroiled in war or are experiencing humanitarian crises, such as Ukraine, and to extend additional assistance to individuals who would lose both their jobs and their visa-linked status.

The letter stated that the personnel reduction decision by Alphabet will have worldwide effects. “We know that as workers, we are stronger together than alone, but the voices of the workers have never been effectively taken into account.”

The petition comes after Alphabet announced in January that it would decrease its personnel by around 6% in response to investor pressure to cut costs in the post-pandemic slump. After years of expansion and recruiting, other software behemoths like Meta Platforms Inc., Amazon.com Inc., and Microsoft Corp. have recently reduced personnel.

No comments on the petition were made right away by an Alphabet spokesperson. The company hired for a "different economic reality than the one we confront today," according to Pichai, who said in an email to colleagues that he took "full responsibility," when he revealed the job layoffs on January 20.

Although some Google employees—particularly those in the US—lost their jobs right once, the process has gone far more slowly for those in Europe's more labor-friendly nations. For instance, Google employees in Switzerland were unaware of their dismissal until this week, which led to a walkout on Wednesday.

Employees with the backing of unions like the United Tech and Allied Workers, UNI Global, and the Alphabet Workers Union coordinated the letter. It developed from conversations held on a Discord channel that was started after the employment cuts were announced.

Many petitions regarding the layoffs at various Google units and in various countries where it is present have been organized with the assistance of labor groups.

According to Trade Algo, some of the petition's signatories are worried that the legal consultation procedures in some nations have devolved into a box-ticking exercise. They said that management had ignored employee feedback, including the findings of surveys in which respondents indicated a desire to volunteer for layoffs or decreased hours.

Before delivering a hard copy of the petition to Pichai at Google's headquarters in California, the staff members intend to circulate it for a few more days.

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

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