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Moderators in case against Meta hold demos at Sama offices

Moderators involved in a dismissal case against Meta, Sama and Majorel staged a peaceful demonstration at Sama’s offices in Sameer Park along Mombasa Road on Friday to protest the company’s violation of a court order.

The demos follow allegations that the company is withholding some salaries and pressuring some moderators to leave the country in order to receive their dues.

Facebook content moderator James Mark Agada, who is taking part in the sit-in, said Facebook and Sama were trying to “throw us away like garbage – but we are human beings”.

“The court order is clear. Sama has to pay. At the moment, people cannot pay rent. These are some of the richest companies in the world. We are not going anywhere. We will not be intimidated. We will stay here until Facebook and Sama obey the court and pay us.

Also read: Mugshots ban: DCI protests court order on Facebook, Twitter posts

Cori Crider, a director of tech justice non-profit Foxglove, which is supporting the moderators, said Facebook and Sama had shown serious contempt for the law of sovereign countries outside the US.

“These moderators are paid extremely low wages, and it’s shocking that these extremely wealthy companies don’t want to pay them. They shouldn’t have to sit in just to get the meagre wages they are owed,” said Crider.

Nerima Wako, executive director of Kenyan NGO Siasa Place, which is also supporting the moderators in Kenya, added that Friday morning’s brave action shows the courage of the Facebook moderators at Sama Nairobi.

“These young people deserve far better than the exploitation they have been subjected to. These tech giants should respect our laws and pay them – NOW,” she said.

The presenters have so far obtained a court order protecting their status as legal immigrants until the case is decided.

In March, a court in Nairobi barred Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, from firing its content moderators pending the outcome of a lawsuit claiming the planned dismissals were unlawful.

Meta and Sama had planned to sack the entire content moderation workforce in Nairobi as part of the social media company’s strategy to restructure its technology and business groups.

The interim order was upheld by Judge Nduma Nderi, temporarily saving the moderators’ jobs.

At least 184 content moderators protested and sat outside the company’s offices, demanding their April salaries.

Sama, Facebook’s outsourcer, is said to withhold the salaries in defiance of a court order.

The moderators in the petition say they were fired in retaliation for complaining about working conditions and trying to form a union.

The moderators say they were blacklisted from applying for the same jobs at another outsourcing company, Luxembourg-based Majorel, after Facebook switched contractors.

Also read: Nairobi judge upholds order blocking mass layoff of Facebook moderators

Principal Judge Justice Byrum Ongaya of the Employment and Labour Relations Court will hear the case, including new contempt charges, on 11 May.

The court has already issued injunctions preventing the dismissal of all Sama moderators and staff.

The court has already issued orders preventing the dismissal of all Sama moderators and stopping Majorel Kenya from recruiting new moderators on Meta’s behalf.

In February, the Labour Court ruled that Meta could be sued after a former moderator at the Nairobi hub filed a lawsuit against the company alleging poor working conditions.

In February, Meta filed an appeal in Kenya against a ruling that it could be sued in a separate case brought by a presenter over alleged poor working conditions, even though it has no official presence in Kenya.

The cases could have implications for how Meta works with content moderators around the world.

The US giant works with thousands of moderators around the world who are tasked with reviewing graphic content posted on its platform.

Also read: 43 sacked Facebook moderators sue Meta in Kenya