Negotiations between Kenyan workers and a multinational tech company, Meta, have come to an impasse. The employees, representing various African countries, had filed a lawsuit against Meta, claiming unfair dismissal.
Initially, both parties had shown progress in the negotiations, as they agreed to explore an out-of-court settlement. However, it appears that the negotiations have reached an insurmountable hurdle.
A statement from the workers’ side expressed frustration, alleging that the respondents were stalling and lacking sincerity in the negotiation process. They claimed that the other party consistently requested extensions of time and ultimately refused to accept accountability.
The company in question collaborates with TikTok and OpenAI to enhance its technological systems for serving users. In March 2022, some of its employees accused the multinational firms of subjecting them to harsh working conditions, likening the workplace to a ‘sweatshop.’
These employees, numbering nearly 200, were responsible for reviewing and censoring sensitive content, including videos depicting violence, sexual abuse, and suicides. After viewing such content, they were tasked with removing or concealing banned materials before they could be shared on the platform.
According to some workers, they experienced mental trauma, intimidation, and alleged suppression of their right to unionize. In response to the initial complaints, some employees received a pay increase of Ksh20,000, translating to a wage hike ranging from 30 to 50 percent.
Before this review, the employees held the distinction of being the lowest-paid workers within Meta, Facebook’s parent company, anywhere in the world. The outcome of the collapsed negotiations now leaves 184 workers uncertain about their job security.