Google fires 28 staff after protests against cloud contract with Israel | Israel War on Gaza

Tech giant says employees engaged in ‘completely unacceptable behaviour’ during sit-in at company offices.

Google has fired 28 employees following a sit-down protest over the tech giant’s contract to provide cloud computing and artificial intelligence services to the Israeli government

The terminations come after the group No Tech for Apartheid on Tuesday occupied Google offices in California and New York to protest the $1.2bn contract known as Project Nimbus.

Video of the demonstrations shared on social media showed police arresting employees in the office of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian.

In a statement on Thursday, Google said that physically impeding employees and preventing them from accessing company facilities was a “clear violation of our policies and completely unacceptable behaviour”.

“After refusing multiple requests to leave the premises, law enforcement was engaged to remove them to ensure office safety,” a spokesperson said. “We have so far concluded individual investigations that resulted in the termination of employment for 28 employees, and will continue to investigate and take action as needed.”

Google also denied that the contract was related to weapons or intelligence services.

In a blog post, Google CEO Sundar Pichai issued a veiled warning to protesting employees.

“We have a culture of vibrant, open discussion that enables us to create amazing products and turn great ideas into action. That’s important to preserve. But 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, to attempt to use the company as a personal platform, or to fight over disruptive issues or debate politics,”  Pichai said. “This is too important a moment as a company for us to be distracted.”

No Tech for Apartheid accused Google of retaliation and said those fired included staff who had not directly participated in the protests.

“This flagrant act of retaliation is a clear indication that Google values its $1.2 billion contract with the genocidal Israeli government and military more than its own workers. In the three years that we have been organising against Project Nimbus, we have yet to hear from a single executive about our concerns,” it said in a statement posted on Medium.

No Tech For Apartheid also described claims that protesters had defaced property and physically impeded other employees’ work as a “lie”.

“Even the workers who were participating in a peaceful sit-in and refusing to leave did not damage property or threaten other workers. Instead, they received an overwhelmingly positive response and shows of support,” the group said.

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