The Fox, issue 1
Welcome to The Fox, a newsletter for all tech workers fighting for fair pay and decent work – and their allies.
We’re writing because you signed an open letter about fair content moderation work, or you’ve worked with us before and said you’d like to hear from us.
We decided to start this monthly brief about the rise of tech workers – because we’re working with lots of you from Facebook to Uber to Amazon. You’re all amazing, and you’re all doing cool things we think the rest of you would want to hear about!
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Sweet (delayed) Call-in-time… woah woah woah
A starter to tickle your whiskers foxes – back in September, bosses at Facebook’s top outsourcing firm Accenture were not at all happy about having the poor pay and working conditions of their staff exposed in the NYT.
Accenture CEO Julie Sweet – who’s more used to glowing puff pieces in the Gray Lady than reading about her staff getting traumatised at their desks – responded by offering a global Q&A with content mods to air their concerns. There were actually two due to happen – one October 18, and one in early Dec.
Someone’s just sent us the tape from October, and it was – excuse our French – BS. Julie’s answer was a tepid corporate clunker that barely addressed moderators’ concerns and shut down the one question permitted on the subject.
The Fox has now learnt that a follow-up Q&A, scheduled for December, has been fobbed off until February.
Here’s the thing: it would be wonderful if Julie used the delay to engage seriously with how to provide proper mental health support to staff on the frontline of Facebook’s content nightmare. But to make her engage, it will take serious pressure from workers.
We’d urge all content mods at Accenture to ask their managers directly why the Q&A has been delayed – and how the company will guarantee their voices are genuinely heard when it finally does happen in February?
If you want to be part of exposing what a sham it is to the world, you have our deets.
Uber loser in court… again
There was great news for Uber drivers in London a few weeks before Christmas when the UK’s top court upheld a previous ruling that app drivers are employees working for the company – not independent contractors. That means they’re legally entitled to full employment rights like holiday pay, sick pay and pensions.
Put your paws in the air for the App Drivers and Couriers Union, and its general secretary James Farrar and president Yaseen Aslam, who have been the driving force behind this hard-fought win.
Roll your eyes and scratch your snout at the BBC news website’s coverage of the judgment which ran Uber’s corporate fluff response uncritically as its headline.
We love the Beeb dearly but that top line – which is the only bit most people will read – takes a big victory that sets a precedent for thousands of other tech workers in the UK in their battle for fair pay, conditions and human dignity, and reduces it to: “your cab fare will go up – says cab company”. Must have been trebles all round at Uber PR that afternoon.
Bezos has one less billion
And finally – a trio of bright spots for workers fighting the good fight against the world’s saddest space cowboy.
First up, Italy’s competition regulators kept the antitrust fire burning by fining Amazon $1.2 billion. The company went hopping mad over losing just one of Bezos’s bazillions of billions – that tells you how much they fear laws designed to break up its monopoly.
Then, twas the night before the night before Christmas and all through the (ware)house, workers were organising – or at least they will now be able to without Amazon calling the cops or getting security to menace them for being on the shop floor fifteen minutes after the end of their shift, thanks to a settlement from the US labour regulator, the NLRB, as reported in the NYT. That beats a satsuma, as stocking fillers go.
And back to the UK, where Sharon Graham, new boss of the country’s second largest trade union, Unite, gave an interview to the Sunday Mirror, laying out her plans for international workers’ cooperation in fighting back against Amazon.
Graham, who won her position at the top of the union by promising to make tackling Amazon’s anti-union tactics her top priority, aims to combine the power of her own union with fellow organised workers in Germany and the States in taking down the beast.
We back this idea. Amazon is a corporate behemoth of unprecedented size and scope in the history of the world. The movement needed to force it to treat its workers like human beings will take people all over the world working together. Shazza’s plan sounds like a great start.
That’s all for now Fox – solidarity.
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