Facebook’s global union-busting campaign hits Germany – suspending moderator and trade unionist after he gives evidence to the Bundestag

Union-busting by Facebook’s outsourcing companies has hit a new low.

Two weeks ago, brave content moderator Cengiz Haksöz gave evidence to the German parliament, the Bundestag, about the dire working conditions at Facebook’s moderation office in Essen.

In response, outsourcing company Telus suspended him indefinitely and barred him from entering the office. 

Cengiz’s suspension reeks of Big Tech’s contempt for democracy and the rule of law. Once again, through an outsourcing proxy company, Facebook is trampling on the freedom of speech and human rights of their key safety workers. Cengiz has the right to speak to elected officials about his working conditions under German law. 

It’s also an assault on democracy, challenging the right of workers to speak without fear to lawmakers about the state of the work in Germany.

Not only that, but Cengiz is the chair of the works council election committee at the Essen Facebook content moderation office, with a workforce of around 1,800. By banning Cengiz from entering the office, Facebook and Telus are unlawfully blocking lawful trade union organisation by these workers.

The timing is likely not a coincidence, as Cengiz was due to supervise the first full election to the works council board at the Telus office. 

As chair of the council’s electoral board, Cengiz has a statutory duty to oversee the election. By preventing him from entering the office, Telus and Facebook are illegally blocking the creation of a vital body for workers to organise – as is their right under German and European law.

Facebook’s attack on Cengiz fits into a shameful pattern of union-busting we’ve seen from them – and their outsourcing companies – around the globe in response to workers exercising their right to collectively organise and fight for better conditions. 

In Kenya, Facebook has repeatedly stamped on workers’ attempts to organise, culminating in the unlawful mass layoff of its entire content moderation office for East and Southern Africa, a region of around 500m people. 

However, just as in Kenya, workers in Germany are fighting back. A Kenyan judge ruled recently that Facebook is the “true employer” of its moderators – and legally responsible for the unlawful mass layoff.

In Germany, the trade union ver.di, of which Cengiz is a member, has launched legal action to force Facebook and Telus to drop the suspension. Foxglove, and our amazing partners SUPERRR Lab, fully support this action and urge Facebook and Telus to end this outrageous union-busting operation immediately – and make a full apology to Cengiz. 

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