Google fires 28 employees who participated in protest

TMI Newsdesk
4 Min Read

Google has terminated 28 employees after dozens of workers participated in sit-ins inside company offices this week to protest the tech giant’s work in Israel amid the war against Hamas in Gaza.

The protests, organized by the No Tech for Apartheid campaign, raised concerns about Google and Amazon’s $1.2-billion cloud computing contract with the Israeli government and military. The campaign is demanding that Google and Amazon drop the effort, known as Project Nimbus.

The advocacy group staged protests and sit-ins Tuesday at Google offices in New York and Sunnyvale, Calif., where nine Google employees were arrested for trespassing. The campaign said the firings included people who did not directly participate in the sit-in protests.

Google said the employees had violated company policy.

In a letter to Google staff, Chris Rackow, Google’s vice president of global security, said the workers were terminated after an internal investigation, adding that their actions ran afoul of the company’s code of conduct and harassment rules.

“They took over office spaces, defaced our property, and physically impeded the work of other Googlers,” Rackow wrote in a memo obtained by the New York Post, which first reported the firings. “Their behavior was unacceptable, extremely disruptive, and made co-workers feel threatened.”

In a statement on Thursday night, Google said all of the 28 people whose employment was terminated was “definitively involved in disruptive activity inside our buildings.”

“The groups were live-streaming themselves from the physical spaces they had taken over for many hours, which did help us with our confirmation,” Google said. “And many employees whose work was physically disrupted submitted complaints, with details and evidence. So the claims to the contrary being made are just nonsense.”

The protest group said the workers “have the right to peacefully protest about terms and conditions of our labor.”

“In the three years that we have been organizing against Project Nimbus, we have yet to hear from a single executive about our concerns,” the No Tech for Apartheid campaign said in a statement. “These firings were clearly retaliatory.”

The group said it plans to continue organizing until Google drops the contract.

The protests in the tech industry have escalated in the wake of Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip, which began in response to the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas-led militants in which about 1,200 people were killed and about 240 taken hostage.

More than 33,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in Israel’s air and ground offensive, according to Gaza health officials.

Google has said that its technology is used to support numerous governments around the world, including Israel’s, and that the Nimbus contract is for work running on its commercial cloud network, with the Israeli government ministries agreeing to comply with Google’s terms of service and acceptable use policy.

“This work is not directed at highly sensitive, classified, or military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services,” Google said in a statement.

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