Switzerland and Google at odds

Switzerland and Google at odds

Fri, Mar 17th 2023

Hundreds Google’s employees this week walked out of its Zurich offices in protest. Meanwhile, a study found that Google owes Swiss publishers 154 million Swiss francs.
Google’s offices in Zurich during happier times (Keystone SDA).

Nearly 500 of Google’s employees this week walked out of its Zurich offices to protest against the way the company has handled its massive layoffs.

More on the strike

The strike is “in solidarity with those laid off by the company worldwide,” according to the IT employees’ union Syndicom. They staged a similar, smaller protest in February after mass layoffs.

About 2,500 employees from Google’s Zurich office offered to reduce working hours voluntarily in a move to prevent further layoffs. When Google Zurich then laid off another 200 employees this month, 500 of the remaining workers walked out.

“The employee representation committee, together with the Syndicom union, are now in talks with Google to negotiate an extended social plan,” according to the union.

Google laid off about 12,000 employees in January, which is about 6% of the company’s workforce.

Google owes Swiss media millions

Google should pay at least 154 million Swiss francs per year to Swiss publishers for their online news content, according to a new Swiss media study from German-language publishers’ association Schweizer Medien.

News publishers lose ad revenue to online search aggregators such as Google, since tech companies use articles in search results without payment.

About 86% of Swiss residents use Google to search for information. Media content is what most users are interested in when they use Google, according to Schweizer Median. About 53% stay on Google’s webpagesinstead of clicking through to the publication’s website.

Google should pay Swiss publishers about CHF154 million for their content, according to researchers from ETH Zurich, the University of Zurich and consulting firm Fehr Advice.

Four years ago, the EU adopted copyright rules that require Google and other search engines to pay artists, writers, and news publishers for their work. Last May, Google agreed to pay more than 300 publishers in France, Germany and four other EU countries for their news content. Google said at that time that it would soon implement a tool to make it easier for other publishers to sign up.

The Swiss government has said that it wants its news publishers to receive the same treatment and will launch an initiative looking into the matter.

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