SINGAPORE: Hundreds of workers were laid off by tech giant Google as part of its effort to trim expenses, on Wednesday (10 Jan). Employees in its engineering and other departments are among those who were dismissed.

The retrenchments at Google come amid the company’s focus on artificial intelligence (AI) and occur at the same time as layoffs in other tech companies, including Amazon and Meta, which owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

Employees who had been working on Google Assistant and hardware on the Pixel phone, as well as those who worked on Fitbit watches and the Nest thermostat, were among those who were dismissed, reported the New York Times.

“We’ve had to make some difficult decisions about ongoing employment of some Google employees and we regret to inform you that your position is being eliminated,” Google told the retrenched employees.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Google said, “We’re responsibly investing in our company’s biggest priorities and the significant opportunities ahead.”

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“Throughout the second half of 2023, a number of our teams made changes to become more efficient and work better, and to align their resources to their biggest product priorities. Some teams are continuing to make these kinds of organizational changes, which include some role eliminations globally.”

On 20 Jan last year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, announced that the company would be axing 12,000 jobs, letting go of over six per cent of its total workforce. Mr Pichai called it “a difficult decision” but one that would set Google up for the future.

As of last September, the company had 182,000 employees around the globe.

This was been Google’s biggest number of lay-offs in history, with a letter from the CEO posted on the search engine. The more recent retrenchments have been carried out on a more low-key level, Bloomberg quoted both a current and former employee as saying.

The Alphabet Workers Union (AWU-CWA) has responded to the dismissals with a post on X (formerly Twitter) saying, “Tonight, Google began another round of needless layoffs. Our members and teammates work hard every day to build great products for our users, and the company cannot continue to fire our coworkers while making billions every quarter. We won’t stop fighting until our jobs are safe!”

Earlier on Wednesday (Jan 10), Amazon announced that it was laying off hundreds of workers from Twitch, Prime Video and MGM studios.  /TISG

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