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Google fires 28 staff after protest against firm’s contract with Israeli government |

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Google said on Thursday it had terminated 28 employees after some staff participated in protests against the company’s cloud contract with the Israeli government. Employees staged sit-ins at their offices, some for more than eight hours.

The Alphabet unit said a small number of pro-Palestine employees entered and disrupted work at a few unspecified office locations. They occupied the office of the chief technology officer of Google Cloud and held posters reading “No cloud apartheid”, “Googlers against genocide” and “Don’t be evil, stop retaliation”, a reference to Google’s former corporate slogan. New York police made four trespassing arrests in response to the protest while Sunnyvale police made five, according to the New York Post. Roughly 50 protesters occupied Google’s New York office; about 80 protested in Sunnyvale.

“Physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies, and completely unacceptable behavior,” the company said in a statement.

Chris Rackow, Google’s vice-president of global security, was more blunt in an email to employees, per CNBC: “If you’re one of the few who are tempted to think we’re going to overlook conduct that violates our policies, think again.”

Google said it had concluded individual investigations, resulting in the termination of 28 employees, and would continue to investigate and take action as needed.

In a statement, Google workers affiliated with the No Tech for Apartheid campaign called it a “flagrant act of retaliation” and said that some employees who did not directly participate in Tuesday’s protests were also among those Google fired.

“This evening, Google indiscriminately fired 28 workers, including those among us who did not directly participate in yesterday’s historic, bicoastal 10-hour sit-in protests. This is a clear indication that Google values its $1.2 billion contract with the genocidal Israeli government and military more than its own workers,” the statement reads.

UPDATE—NYC/Sunnyvale @google workers enter HOUR 9 of sit-in

workers will NOT leave @ThomasOrTK’s office or GOOGLE NYC HQ until nimbus is dropped or they’re arrested


— No Tech For Apartheid (@NoTechApartheid) April 17, 2024

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The protesting faction says that Project Nimbus, a $1.2bn contract awarded to Google and in 2021 to supply the Israeli government with cloud services, supports the development of military tools by the Israeli government.

In its statement, Google maintained that the Nimbus contract “is not directed at highly sensitive, classified, or military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services”.

In a press briefing on Wednesday, Gabriel Schubiner – a software engineer who quit his job at Google over the company’s contracts with Israel – said, “Google has for years, lied about the specific complicity with the military. However, we know from internal organizing that this is not true. We know that Google is deeply complicit with the Israeli military.”

Protests at Google are not new. In 2018, workers successfully pushed the company to shelve a contract with the US military, Project Maven, meant to analyze aerial drone imagery with potential application in warfare. Also in 2018, the company saw a major walkout in response to its handling of sexual harassment by executives.

Read More: Google fires 28 staff after protest against firm’s contract with Israeli government |

2024-04-18 16:46:00

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