Swiss Google workers stage walkout over layoffs, offer to reduce wages to prevent cuts


In brief: Google’s worldwide job cuts have led to hundreds of employees at the company’s office in Zurich, Switzerland, walking out after 200 co-workers were laid off. The Googlers had tried to negotiate with the tech giant and come to an arrangement that would avoid the job losses, but to no avail.

Back in January, Google became one of the many tech companies to announce layoffs as a result of overhiring during the pandemic and the current global economic downturn. Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said 12,000 workers globally, equivalent to 6% of its employees from around the world, would be let go.

That number included more than 200 employees in its Zurich office, where 5,000 people work, leading to 250 employees walking out last month to protest the then-upcoming layoffs and call on the company to refrain from making any more of its staff unemployed. Insider reports that those who walked out used the slogan, “We walk out for those who can’t walk back in.”

A representative for IT workers’ union Syndicom, which represents a number of Google employees, said that staff in Zurich demanded Google seriously examine alternatives to the layoffs, with more than 2,000 employees offering to reduce their wages and working hours in an attempt to prevent job cuts—a proposal Google rejected.

Syndicom writes that if redundancies cannot be avoided, Google is expected to minimize the consequences for those affected with an acceptable social plan. It gives the example of non-EU nationals whose right of residence in Switzerland expires in the event of dismissal.

The union called out Google’s “intransparent procedure” of the layoffs, adding that they came despite parent company alphabet making a net profit of almost $60 billion last year and having a market cap of $1.2 trillion.

Google faced more criticism last month when it was revealed that the company was implementing a desk-sharing scheme for its Google Cloud employees. Google said the plan was a more efficient use of its workspace, i.e., a cost-cutting measure that will reduce the amount of real estate space it pays for.


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