Google Fires More Staff Over Israel Protest

Alphabet’s Google continues to fire more staff, after a number of employees had stormed two Google offices in protest at a cloud contract with Israel, and demonstrated “completely unacceptable behaviour”.

Last week it was reported that Google had terminated 28 employees, after a series of protests against labour conditions and the company’s contract to provide the Israeli government with cloud computing and artificial intelligence services.

Google had alleged that a small number of employees affiliated with the ‘No Tech for Apartheid’ campaign had entered and disrupted work at two office locations in New York and Sunnyvale, California.

Image credit: Kai Wenzel/Unsplash

Israel protests

Nine Google workers were arrested on trespassing charges after staging a sit-in at the company’s offices.

The New York sit in lasted over nine hours and spanned two floors.

Some staff even reportedly entered and staged a protest in the office of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian.

Google alleged that the protesters had defaced its property during the protest, and even physically impeded the work of other Googlers.

Last week the protesters denied Google’s accusations and said the firings were an “excuse to avoid confronting us and our concerns directly, and attempt to justify its illegal, retaliatory firings, is a lie.”

More firings

But now the Associated Press has reported that Google is still carrying out disciplinary actions in the aftermath of the protests.

The AP reported that Google fired at least 20 more workers, bringing the total number of terminated staff to more than 50, according to the group representing the workers.

The No Tech For Apartheid group tweeted that Google had fired 30 workers last week – higher than the initial 28 they had announced.

And then on Tuesday Google fired “over 20” more staffers, “including non-participating bystanders during last week’s protests,” according to Jane Chung, a spokeswoman for No Tech For Apartheid, without providing a more specific number.

“Google’s aims are clear: the corporation is attempting to quash dissent, silence its workers, and reassert its power over them,” Chung reportedly said in a press release. “In its attempts to do so, Google has decided to unceremoniously, and without due process, upend the livelihoods of over 50 of its own workers.”

Masked protesters

According to AP, Google said it fired the additional workers after its investigation gathered details from coworkers who were “physically disrupted” and it identified employees who used masks and didn’t carry their staff badges to hide their identities.

Google didn’t specify how many staff were fired.

The protest last week even drew the attention of Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who in a blog post last week warned staff that Google offices are “not a place to act in a way that disrupts coworkers or makes them feel unsafe,” as the company intensifies its efforts to improve its AI technology.

“We have a culture of vibrant, open discussion that enables us to create amazing products and turn great ideas into action,” wrote Pichai. “That’s important to preserve.”

“But ultimately we are a workplace and our policies and expectations are clear: this is a business, and not a place to act in a way that disrupts coworkers or makes them feel unsafe, to attempt to use the company as a personal platform, or to fight over disruptive issues or debate politics. This is too important a moment as a company for us to be distracted.”

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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