Tech Workers Rising: German workers elect first TikTok works council

The global fightback by workers against Big Tech showed no sign of slowing down last week as workers at TikTok in Berlin successfully voted to form their first works council or Betriebsrat. 

Of the eleven workers who were elected to the Betriebsrat, nine are members of Ver.di in a huge win for the trade union. We’re huge fans of Ver.di at Foxglove, who’ve been working with closely to support TikTik content moderators in Germany. 

If you’re a German content moderator, hit the button below to read about the work we’re doing (kontaktieren Sie uns jetzt über Signal: +49 160 3746194):

In their announcement on the successful vote, ver.di noted: “[translated from German] There is great dissatisfaction among the employees at the Berlin site, especially in the teams of content moderators, because of poor pay and very stressful working conditions.”

While not commonly known in the UK or US, works councils can be an important tool for organised labour in continental Europe. 

Workers initially tried to form this works council at the start of the pandemic, but the election rules required in person elections. Workers at TikTok brought German union Ver.di onboard and the second attempt proved successful.

For the full story on the battle of German workers to get to this point, read Christina Criddle’s deep dive in the FT, featuring contributions from Foxglove director Martha Dark:

“This is a huge milestone for tech workers fighting for a fair deal from bosses on pay & working conditions.

“Across the world, tech workers are organising, working together, building relationships across borders.”

Foxglove director Martha Dark

Like Martha says – this is the key point.

Along with the Amazon Labor Union’s success in unionising their first US warehouse on Staten Island, the first UK strike ballot at a UK warehouse led by the GMB union and lawsuits like that of Daniel Motaung against Facebook, this is another sign of the rising tide of worker power in Big Tech. 

Workers are realising the power they hold, working together and taking back control.

For all the latest on tech workers fighting back against exploitation around the world, hit the button below: