U.S. tech companies are learning that labor laws in Europe -- where Amazon, Alphabet, and Meta employ more than 170,000 full-time tech workers -- make it much harder to reduce headcounts.
Over the past year, as many as 440,200 tech-sector jobs have disappeared worldwide, with most redundancies announced by U.S. companies, according to tracking site Layoffs.fyi. Meanwhile, in Europe, layoffs among tech companies have been limited to 42,000 -- less than 10 percent of the global total -- protected by labor union laws.
In France and Germany, where labor laws are among the strongest in the E.U., Google parent Alphabet Inc. is currently negotiating with works councils -- groups whose elected employee representatives deal with management about workforce issues.
In January, Alphabet announced it was laying off 12,000 employees worldwide, equivalent to six percent of its global workforce.
“We have been working carefully and individually through each country where reductions are taking place to fully adhere to local legal requirements,” a Google spokesperson told Bloomberg.
According to Britain’s Unite Union regional officer Matthew Waley, an estimated 500 out of 8,000 Google staff will have to leave.
Hundreds of Google employees staged a walkout at the company’s London offices on Tuesday (April 4), following a similar strike by workers at the company’s Zurich office in Switzerland.
Whaley equated Google’s conduct to “union busting” in the U.K. and claimed that Matt Brittin, president at Google Europe and Google Africa, had refused to engage with the union.