Apr 23, 2024 - Technology

Google fires more employees over protest of cloud contract with Israel

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaking in Stanford, California, on April 3.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaking in Stanford, California, on April 3. Photo: Stella Venohr/picture alliance via Getty Image

Google fired around 20 workers for participating in protests against its $1.2 billion cloud computing contract with the Israeli government, according to an activist group representing the workers.

Why it matters: In total, the company has now fired around 50 employees over sit-in protests held in Google offices last week that were part of yearslong discontent among a group of Google and Amazon workers over claims that Israel is using the companies' services to harm Palestinians.

  • Google has denied those claims, saying Project Nimbus, the cloud-computing contract, doesn't involve "highly sensitive, classified, or military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services," and that Israeli government ministries that use its commercial cloud must agree to its terms of services and other policies.

What they're saying: No Tech For Apartheid, the group representing the workers, claimed in a statement that Google is attempting to "quash dissent, silence its workers, and reassert its power over them."

  • "That's because Google values its profit, and its $1.2 billion contract with the Israeli government and military, more than people. And it certainly values it over its own workers," it said.
  • The group said it will continue organizing until Google cancels Project Nimbus.

The other side: A Google spokesperson confirmed Tuesday that additional employees were fired after an internal investigation revealed they were "directly involved in disruptive activity."

  • "To reiterate, every single one of those whose employment was terminated was personally and definitively involved in disruptive activity inside our buildings. We carefully confirmed and reconfirmed this," the spokesperson said, adding that the company's investigation into the demonstrations has concluded.

The big picture: The most recent firings came days after chief executive Sundar Pichai told employees in a memo that they should not "fight over disruptive issues" or "debate politics."

  • "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," the memo read.

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