Labor Dispute: Negotiations Collapse Between Meta And Moderators In Kenya


Out of court negotiations between content moderators, Meta, and Sama, the former content review partner in Africa, have collapsed, further intensifying the ongoing labor dispute. This development emerged today when a Kenyan court was briefed on the outcome of the mediation process, which ultimately failed to yield a settlement. As a result, the suit will now proceed to Kenya’s employment and labor relations court.

Key Takeaway

Out-of-court negotiations between Meta, Sama, and content moderators in Kenya have collapsed, leading to the continuation of the labor dispute. The moderators are seeking compensation and the recognition of their right to unionize.

Unlawful Dismissal and Violation of Kenyan Law

The dispute centers around 180 moderators who are suing Sama and Meta for unlawful dismissal. They argue that both companies failed to issue redundancy notices as required by Kenyan law and that their terminal dues were contingent upon signing nondisclosure agreements. In addition to these claims, the moderators are also suing Majorel, another content moderation partner of Meta in Africa, for alleged discrimination. They assert that Majorel engaged in blacklisting the former employees of Sama.

The attorney representing the moderators informed the court that the mediation process was unsuccessful due to the respondents’ lack of genuine efforts to reach an out-of-court settlement. Meta has declined to comment, while a spokesperson from Sama expressed their disappointment with the lack of progress in the mediation.

Modulators’ Demands and Company Response

The moderators are seeking compensation for the distress caused by the layoffs and demand that Sama reverses the redundancy notices. They are also requesting that Meta establishes a system of mental health support similar to what is provided to employees in its global hubs. Furthermore, the moderators wish for Meta, Sama, and Majorel to recognize their right to unionize. It appears that these demands were not met, ultimately leading to the breakdown of negotiations.

Sama has previously maintained that it complied with Kenyan labor laws during the layoffs, while Meta has argued that it is not the moderators’ employer. However, a Kenyan judge disagreed, highlighting that the moderators performed tasks for Meta using its technology and adhered to its metrics for performance and accuracy.

Other Lawsuits Involving Meta and Sama

In addition to labor disputes, Meta and Sama face further legal challenges. Daniel Motaung, a South African, is suing both companies for labor and human trafficking, unfair labor relations, union busting, and inadequate provision of mental health and psychosocial support. Motaung alleges that his dismissal was a result of organizing a strike in 2019 and attempting to unionize Sama’s employees.

Moreover, Meta is facing a lawsuit filed by Ethiopians in Kenya, accusing the company of failing to implement adequate safety measures on Facebook. The claimants argue that this failure contributed to the deadly Tigray war, resulting in the deaths of over 500,000 people.

As the labor dispute between the moderators, Meta, and Sama continues, the case’s progression in Kenya’s employment and labor relations court will likely shed further light on the intricacies of the claims made by both parties.

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