LONDON-Google has fired four employees in what activists within the company describe as an attempt to “crush” workers’ attempts to organise.

The people, who have been dubbed the “Thanksgiving Four”, had their contracts terminated on Monday.

Staff were told via an internal memo that the firings were related to data security and employee safety. But those who lost their jobs have said they were being punished for “speaking out”.

The sackings followed a demonstration at Google’s San Francisco office on Friday, attended by more than 200 Google employees. Two of the four fired employees, Rebecca Rivers and LaurenceBerland, spoke at the protest.

The Silicon Valley giant has confirmed the authenticity of the memo, first published by Bloomberg, but would not comment further.

Google’s Security and Investigations team said the employees were routinely accessing information about other projects and employees inappropriately.

“Our thorough investigation found the individuals were involved in systematic searches for other employees’ materials and work,” the memo read.

“This includes searching for, accessing, and distributing business information outside the scope of their jobs - repeating this conduct even after they were met with and reminded about our data security policies.

“This information, along with details of internal emails and inaccurate descriptions about Googlers’ work, was subsequently shared externally.” At Friday’s protest, Ms Rivers told the crowd she had been put on administrative leave for accessing confidential documents. She tweeted on Monday that her contract had been terminated.

“Four of our colleagues took a stand and organised for a better workplace,” a statement representing the Four, and other organising employees, read.

The confirmed Mr Berland was among the four. The other two employees’ identities have not been made public.

The statement continued: “This is explicitly condoned in Google’s Code of Conduct, which ends: ‘And remember… don’t be evil, and if you see something that you think isn’t right – speak up’.

“When they did, Google retaliated against them. Today, after putting two of them on sudden and unexplained leave, the company fired all four in an attempt to crush worker organising.”

BLUB- Staff were told via an internal memo that the firings were related to data security and employee safety