Google employees staged a walkout at the tech giant’s London office on Wednesday in protest of planned job cuts.
The walkout, organised by the Unite trade Union, follows Google’s January announcement that it plans to lay off around 12,000 workers across its global operations.
Google employs more than 5,000 staff in the UK, and it’s expected that a significant portion of this workforce could be impacted by the cuts.
Unite, which is the biggest union at Google and represents hundreds of UK staff, alleges that senior management has repeatedly “ignored most of the concerns put to them by elected Unite workplace representatives”.
The trade union said that the company is holding one-to-one consultations with workers and “refusing to allow union representatives to be present” during meetings.
“Google has gone so far as to refuse to hear grievances on the redundancy process put forward by individuals,” the union said in a statement ahead of the walkout.
“This is because formally acknowledging such grievances would give individuals the right to have a union representative attend their consultation.”
Footage circulated on social media by Unite shows dozens of workers protesting outside Google’s London office sites.
Statements from anonymous workers shared with Unite were read out by union representatives. One anonymous staffer suggested that the company has reneged on its ‘don’t be evil’ motto by imposing redundancies.
“Senior leadership has proven they intend to ignore the statements made by our founders, and just like any other conventional company, only care about the whims of activist investors and share price.
“Senior leadership has proven they intend to ignore the statements made by our founders, and just like any other conventional company, only care about the whims of activist investors and share price.”
Unite regional officer Matt Whaley equated Google’s recent conduct to ‘union busting’ and claimed that Matt Brittin, president at Google Europe and Google Africa had refused to engage with the union.
“If he’s listening in there, I have a message for Mr Matt Brittin, because I’d rather not be out here with a group of people protesting, I’d rather be talking to employers about how we can make things better,” Whaley said.
“I wrote to him twice. On both occasions, Mr Brittin wrote back to me saying ‘We don’t recognise unions and we’re not talking to you’,” he added.
The London protest follows a similar kickback from European staff over Google job cuts in recent weeks. Senior management has been engaged in consultations over redundancies at a host of European sites.
Workers at Google’s Zurich office walked out last month amid claims that senior management had refused to consider proposals to reduce job cuts in the country.