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'Will not tolerate it': Google's memo after firing 28 employees over $1.2 bn Israeli contract protest (WATCH)

Google has laid off 28 employees who participated in a sit-down protest over the company’s “$1.2 billion agreement with Israel.” 

Will not tolerate it Google's memo after firing 28 employees over $1.2 bn Israeli contract protest (WATCH) snt
First Published Apr 18, 2024, 12:20 PM IST

In a recent development, Google has terminated the employment of 28 individuals who took part in sit-in demonstrations at two of its premises. This decision follows mounting internal conflicts regarding Google's participation in Project Nimbus, a significant cloud computing agreement with the Israeli government. Valued at $1.2 billion and undertaken in collaboration with Amazon, this contract has sparked disapproval among certain employees who are apprehensive about the ethical ramifications of their company's involvement in governmental projects.

After a disruptive protest wherein participants occupied the office of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian and were subsequently removed by law enforcement, as reported by The Verge, the company proceeded to terminate the employment of those involved. This move follows the previous dismissal of an employee for protesting the same project during a company presentation in Israel last month.

Responding to the recent sit-ins, Chris Rackow, Google’s head of global security, issued a stern memo to all employees, stating that such behavior breaches multiple company policies and will not be tolerated. The memo hinted at the possibility of further action by Google if deemed necessary.

In the memo cited by The Verge, Rackow said, "a number of employees brought the event into our buildings in New York and Sunnyvale. They took over office spaces, defaced our property, and physically impeded the work of other Googlers. Their behavior was unacceptable, extremely disruptive, and made coworkers feel threatened."

Chris Rackow further disclosed that 28 employees were identified as involved in the incident, and the company is conducting an investigation into their actions, with appropriate measures to be taken.

He said, "Behavior like this has no place in our workplace and we will not tolerate it. It clearly violates multiple policies that all employees must adhere to — including our Code of Conduct and Policy on Harassment, Discrimination, Retaliation, Standards of Conduct, and Workplace Concerns."

In a warning to employees contemplating participation in future protests, Rackow stated, "If you’re one of the few who are tempted to think we’re going to overlook conduct that violates our policies, think again. The company takes this extremely seriously."

According to a CNBC report, approximately nine protesters were arrested during the sit-in protest, with the arrests even live-streamed on Twitch. Some of the demonstrators, who remained in Kurian's office for over nine hours, were among those detained. Five individuals were arrested at the company's Sunnyvale office, while four were apprehended at the New York office.

The activist group "No Tech for Apartheid," known for its three-year opposition to Project Nimbus, labeled the firings as a "flagrant act of retaliation." They assert that the protests were a peaceful endeavor to initiate dialogue with the company regarding the Nimbus project and contend that the dismissals constitute an unjust reaction to employees exercising their right to protest.

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