Walkout at Google: 250 employees protest over layoffs
The tech industry has been hit hard by the economic slowdown, resulting in a wave of layoffs across the sector. From tech giants like Meta and Microsoft to startups and smaller companies, the downturn has affected businesses of all sizes. Google too laid off thousands of employees and is now facing resistance from its remaining workforce.
In a show of support for their colleagues who were laid off by the tech giant worldwide, around 250 Google employees in Zurich staged a protest and walked out of their offices. The protesting employees urged the company to halt any further layoffs. In January, Alphabet, the parent company of Google, disclosed its intention to lay off around 12,000 employees across the globe.
While Google has already notified its affected employees in the US and Canada, the extent of the layoffs at other locations still remains uncertain. "We Googlers stand up for each other. The mass layoffs without obvious economic necessity are not acceptable," said a Google employee, reported Business Today.
The employees at Google Zurich are calling for the company to hold discussions with the workers to consider alternative solutions to layoffs, in a thorough and serious manner. In case redundancies cannot be averted, they anticipate the company to minimize the impact on the affected employees through an acceptable social plan. This is especially important for several non-EU nationals who work at Google Zurich and whose right to stay in Switzerland will expire if they are terminated.
Alphabet, the parent company of Google, revealed its intention in mid-January 2023 to terminate approximately 12,000 employees across the globe, which is equivalent to around 6% of Google's worldwide workforce. The job cuts have impacted all regions, and some of the company's top performers have not been immune to the layoffs. The lack of assistance, transparency, and communication provoked disapproval from the employees towards the layoffs.
Google's CEO Sundar Pichai is anticipated to announce a substantial pay reduction for senior executives. During a town hall meeting, Pichai confirmed that all roles above the level of 'senior vice president' would experience a decrease in their annual bonus, and he is also expected to take a pay cut as a top executive, though the percentage and duration of the cut have not been disclosed.
Meanwhile, in December 2021, Google approved a new equity award for Pichai, recognising his "strong performance" as CEO, which grants him equity every three years. In the latest grant, he received two tranches of PSUs valued at $63 million each and a grant of $84 million in Alphabet's restricted stock units.
According to a 2020 media report, Pichai's annual salary was $2 million, and his net worth dropped by 20% to Rs 5,300 crore, according to the IIFL Hurun India Rich List 2022. Pichai has faced criticism for terminating employees to reduce operation costs amid concerns of a global recession, with many suggesting that he take a pay cut instead, citing the example of Apple CEO Tim Cook's 40% pay cut.