Victory for brave Facebook moderator after court says he was fired unfairly after exposing dire working conditions
Last month, a German labour court ruled in favour of Facebook content moderator Cengiz Haksöz, who had been fired by outsourcing firm Telus and banned from entering its offices. It was an important victory, and a huge blow for Meta’s union-busting campaign.
As part of the Content Moderator Summit we held with Superrr Lab and ver.di, a German labour union that supports content moderators, Cengiz gave evidence to the German parliament about the awful conditions he and his colleagues were facing inside the content moderation office where they worked, in Essen, Dusseldorf.
After he spoke, Telus sacked him.
Cengiz is part of the ‘works council’, a group that helps to protect the rights and interests of the workforce. In fact, he is chair of its election committee, so it was his job to oversee an upcoming election of works council members – the first full election to take place there. Bit hard to do when you’re banned from the building.
It was a clear case of union-busting but, with help from ver.di, Cengiz was able to regain access his workplace and the election went ahead. It was a huge success, with a high turnout and 18 works council members elected. The vast majority, including Cengiz, are members of ver.di.
Works council members receive special legal protections that should prevent them from being fired except in exceptional circumstances.
The court rejected Telus’s claim that circumstances in which Cengiz had been sacked were extraordinary. It asks supported Cengiz’s claims that he was not properly heard before being fired – and that the works council was not properly informed.
Meta’s attack on Cengiz its into a shameful pattern of union-busting around the globe. But his win in court is the latest significant victory for those fighting back.
In Kenya, as in Germany, Meta has repeatedly stamped on workers’ attempts to collectively organise and fight for better conditions. But a Kenyan judge ruled recently that Meta is the “true employer” of its moderators – and legally responsible for an unlawful mass layoff.
Cengiz was punished for speaking up and telling the truth about the horrible reality of moderation work – but he faced down Meta and its outsourcing company’s shameful tactics.
His fight will continue as Telus will now take the case to the higher Düsseldorf Regional Labor Court.
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