Layoffs of Google and other technology companies in Italy and Europe

Layoffs of Google and other technology companies in Italy and Europe

Compared to the US, European laws don’t allow for mass layoffs: US tech companies are talking about it with unions.

by Mariasole Lisciandro

In recent months, several US technology companies have announced thousands of layoffs to cut costs, after a general crisis hit the entire sector last year. However, these decisions have very different consequences in the United States, on the one hand, and in Europe and Italy, on the other. In Italy, the local Google office is negotiating with the unions to reduce the number of employees, through an incentive scheme for voluntary resignations, as has already been done by the Italian branch of halfthe company that controls Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, and how it looks like it’s starting to do it Microsoft.

Globally, the mass layoff announcements affected tens of thousands of people in just a few months. Meta has announced more than 20,000 layoffs globally, Alphabet, the company that controls Google, will lay off 12,000, Microsoft 10,000 and Amazon about 18,000.

In the United States, thousands of employees of these companies have already been fired because labor laws provide great freedom for companies to fire their employees. But this is not possible for the expected layoffs by companies in Europe and Italy, where consultations are necessary first with unions, workers’ representatives and sometimes even with the responsible ministries in the event of a company crisis. Nor is it certain that companies will eventually be able to lay off jobs, and this leaves thousands of employees in the sector in Europe in a very uncertain position.

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Between the EU and the UK there are approximately 200,000 employees of Meta, Amazon, Google and Microsoft. Compared to their US counterparts, on average, European employees of tech companies earn less, but enjoy more protection.

In Google’s case, of the 12,000 redundancies announced in January (about 6 percent of the total workforce), 7,000 have already been laid off or are planned in the US, and the remainder will be split among other affiliates around the world. Some Google Italy employees who asked not to be identified say that since the announcement a very tense and confusing climate has developed, because the company has had to comply with the different labor standards in place in each country: where the dismissals are more relaxed, as in the United States and Israel, they have been Already sending out rejection emails with short deadlines, as the actual class started in a week or two; Things elsewhere are more complicated.

In France, Germany, and Italy—where labor standards are among the most protective in the European Union—Google negotiates with trade unions and with union representatives of its subsidiaries—that is, groups of employees elected from among colleagues to negotiate with management over workforce issues (in Italy they are called RSU, that is, representatives of unitary trade unions). In these countries, companies are required by law to negotiate with them prior to layoffs, a sometimes lengthy process that includes information gathering, negotiations, and appeals.

Precisely to avoid going for too long, in some European countries plans to reduce staff numbers are being negotiated or have already been initiated through voluntary resignations by employees, who are offered incentives such as monthly salaries paid in advance or bonuses. In a recent article, bloomberg narrated That these incentives for voluntary resignations were offered by several technology companies in both France and Germany and that France, for example, was the first European country in which unions announced that they had reached an agreement with Google on voluntary staff cuts.

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Something similar is also happening in Italy, where redundancy plans agreed with the unions – limited to a few dozen people – have already been announced in various forms before. halfAnd Microsoft and others.

Google Italy has not made any official announcements yet, but company employees say negotiations are also underway at the local branch for a voluntary resignation plan to reduce staff numbers. One of them explains: “The numbers are unknown. If the quota of layoffs announced by the company is respected, it will be 6 percent of about 450 employees, or about thirty people ». Negotiations between the unions and the company appear to be continuing: “We have had few official communications and we still do not know what terms are being offered. The main question people who want to leave is how the shares given to the employees will be handled.

the mail I contacted Google Italy and the company said it had informed employees that it would go ahead with the voluntary resignation plan.

The opposite occurs in the United Kingdom, where employment law is less strict and more similar to that of the United States: bloomberg It is estimated that about 500 of Google’s 8,000 employees in the country will be laid off, which is just over 6 percent, consistent with the amount of redundancies identified globally. The same is happening in Dublin, where 240 staff are set to be laid off, according to unions, and in Zurich, where up to 200 staff are expected.

Google Italy employees then say that this difference in treatment is seen as somewhat unfair. In some countries employees have been fired outright, and in others the company offers incentives and rewards for them to quit. One of them explains: «On the one hand, there was a sense of nervousness towards the labor legislation in your country, and on the other hand, there was a perception of having employees in Series A or Group B depending on where you are. On the one hand, they say, “My nation is cursed by what does not protect me,” and on the other hand, “We are not truly equal.”

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– Also read: Because the tech sector is in trouble

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