Google fires more workers for ‘disruptive’ protests over contract with Israel

Group that organized last week’s action against ‘Project Nimbus’ says over 50 workers axed in total; tech giant says they ‘physically disrupted’ other employees

Google employees hold a sit-protest against Israel at the company's offices, April 16, 2024. (X video screenshot; Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Google employees hold a sit-protest against Israel at the company's offices, April 16, 2024. (X video screenshot; Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Google fired at least 20 more workers in the aftermath of sit-in protests over technology the company is supplying the Israeli government amid war in Gaza, bringing the total number of terminated staff to more than 50, a group representing the workers said.

There has been turmoil at the tech giant centered on “Project Nimbus,” a $1.2 billion contract signed in 2021 for Google and Amazon to provide the Israeli government with cloud computing and artificial intelligence services.

Workers held sit-in protests last week at Google offices in New York and Sunnyvale, California. The company responded by calling the police, who made arrests. Google later announced that it fired 28 employees for violating company policies by disrupting other workers and preventing them from reaching its facilities.

The group organizing the protests, No Tech For Apartheid, said the company fired 30 workers last week — higher than the initial 28 they had announced.

Then, on Tuesday night, Google fired “over 20” more staffers, “including non-participating bystanders during last week’s protests,” said Jane Chung, a spokeswoman for No Tech For Apartheid, without providing a more specific number.

“Google’s aims are clear: the corporation is attempting to quash dissent, silence its workers, and reassert its power over them,” Chung said in a press release. “In its attempts to do so, Google has decided to unceremoniously, and without due process, upend the livelihoods of over 50 of its own workers.”

Google said it fired the additional workers after its investigation gathered details from coworkers who were “physically disrupted” and it identified employees who used masks and didn’t carry their staff badges to hide their identities. It didn’t specify how many were fired.

The company disputed the group’s claims, saying that it carefully confirmed that “every single one of those whose employment was terminated was personally and definitively involved in disruptive activity inside our buildings.”

The Mountain View, California, company had previously signaled that more people could be fired, with CEO Sundar Pichai indicating in a blog post that employees would be on a short leash as the company intensifies its efforts to improve its AI technology.

In March, Google fired an employee after he interrupted a speech by the tech firm’s managing director in Israel with pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel declarations during a conference in New York City.

The rallies came against the background of the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip, which was started by the Palestinian terror group Hamas on October 7 when it led a cross-border attack on Israel in which some 1,200 people were killed and 253 taken hostage.

Israel responded to the Hamas onslaught with a military offensive to destroy the terror group, replace its de facto regime in Gaza, and free the hostages.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 34,000 people in the Strip have been killed in the fighting so far, a figure that cannot be independently verified and includes some 13,000 Hamas gunmen Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7. Two hundred and sixty-one IDF soldiers have been killed in the Gaza offensive.

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