Google ‘forcing’ compulsory redundancies in Dublin rather than offering voluntary schemes, union claims

The Financial Services Union claims that Google has rejected voluntary redundancy options and will now force compulsory layoffs on 240 of its 5,000 staff.

Google's office in Dublin

Adrian Weckler

Google will “force through compulsory redundancies” on 240 Ireland-based staff rather than proceed on a voluntary basis, according to the Financial Services Union (FSU).

Discussions on the layoffs, the union claims, had been “centred around options to avoid and mitigate against compulsory redundancies and to protect employees working in Ireland on work visas who, if made unemployed, may be required to return to dangerous and often precarious situations in their home countries”.

However, the union says that Google has now informed the company’s employee council in writing that it will not adopt a voluntary first approach to redundancies and will force through compulsory redundancies. It is calling on the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney, to intervene to stop the compulsory redundancies.

Google Ireland has declined to comment on the issue.

A spokesperson for the FSU declined to say how many members it has working in Google, which has 5,000 staff based in Ireland. He said that the number was “significant” and that the union had seen a “large increase in membership over the last few months”.

Union activity in big tech companies is traditionally far lower than in other industrial sectors. However, the current waves of layoffs have increased attention among some tech workers on potential union membership.

“The decision by Google to adopt a position of compulsory redundancies is at odds with good industrial relations practice in Ireland and should be reversed,” said John O’Connell, general secretary of the FSU. “It shows a lack of understanding and compassion by Google towards its employees.”

He claimed that alternative “realistic” options were put forward by the employee council in which Google “which would have avoided the need for compulsory redundancies and which would have included “specific, controlled, and targeted application of voluntary severance” in areas where “there is known interest in voluntary severance and employee swaps [and] where someone is at risk but finds someone of a similar skillset and rating who is not at risk but wishes to leave the company”.