Mass layoffs in Europe are not so easy for the tech giants
Google has laid off 12,000 people worldwide in the last period, and Amazon has 27,000 – most of them in the US. Workers here are relatively well protected, though it is also uncertain whether they will still have work in the long term.
More than 170,000 people work for Amazon, Alphabet and Meta in Europe and the UK. In France and Germany, where the segregation rules are the most stringent in Europe, Google is negotiating with the relevant job boards. The company here is required by law to negotiate with such a board before they can fire people – a process that can take a long time.
In France, Google is trying to get people to leave voluntarily with generous severance packages. Amazon will offer the higher-ranking employees here a full annual salary and some bonuses when they leave. According to insiders, Google employees in France and Germany are the least affected by the wave of layoffs, if any. At Amazon Germany, trial periods will not be extended, and proposals for voluntary dismissal plans are being made there. In Luxembourg, departing Amazon employees receive an additional month’s salary for each year worked, in addition to statutory compensation. Employees can also apply internally here.
What people can fight for
In the UK, the dismissal rules are much more flexible than in Europe. Google in the rest of Europe will have to leave somewhere between five hundred and eight thousand people. Employees receive severance pay, but the number of jobs that must disappear is not negotiable. According to union president Matthew Wylie, Google is only trying to do the bare minimum required by law.
Meanwhile, unions at Google have created an international labor council for European Union countries, as well as the United Kingdom and Switzerland. The council, which is based in Dublin, is expected to start functioning within six months and will be able to provide a collective voice in future negotiations. The council will now at least have to inform staff in advance about future reorganizations. According to Parul Kaul, president of the Alphabet Workers Union who works for Google in New York, it’s inspiring for Americans to see “how things are arranged elsewhere, and therefore what people can fight for.”
While workers in Europe are vastly better protected from sudden layoffs, salaries in the United States are much higher. according to bloomberg Software engineers — the people who design software — at Amazon, Alphabet and Meta in the UK often earn half as much as their colleagues in the US.
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