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Google staff in Zurich stage walkout over job cuts

About 250 employees from Alphabet Inc. subsidiary Google in Zurich walked out Wednesday to protest the company’s decision last month to cut about 6% of its global workforce.

The workers, with support from trade union Syndicom, walked away from their desks before lunchtime and assembled with placards outside one of two Google offices in the Swiss city, according to union spokesman Dominik Fitze.

They called on Google to engage in dialogue with an employee committee, as dictated by Swiss law, about alternatives to job cuts and support for foreign nationals whose residency is tied to their employment, Fitze said. They are also seeking a commitment from the company to refrain from further job cuts, he added.

Although the protesters represented a small proportion of Google’s approximately 5,000 Zurich-based employees, it’s relatively rare for tech companies’ corporate workers to walk out. It follows similar protests by colleagues in New York and California earlier this month over the job cuts.

“We know this is an uncertain time for our employees and we are working hard to share updates as soon as we can in line with local labor law,” said a Google spokesperson. “However, given the ongoing process we are not in the position to comment further on the matter.”

Alphabet announced in January plans to cut more than 12,000 jobs, joining other tech giants including Meta Platforms Inc., Amazon Inc. and Salesforce Inc. in scaling back operations amid a weakening global economy and rising inflation.

While affected workers in the US were notified immediately, workers in Europe have taken longer to learn their fate due to stronger local employment laws, that in some cases require a consultation process. It’s not clear how many Zurich-based employees lost their jobs, as they have not yet been notified, Fitze said.

Google workers previously staged a walkout in many cities across the world in 2018 over the company’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations. Bloomberg

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