The Fox: Issue 6 – Amazon strike ballot 2 – TikTok: Bogota/Berlin – Don’t spy on me Mark

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Hello and welcome to the sixth edition of The Fox – a newsletter for all tech workers, and their allies, fighting for fair pay and decent work. 

Coventry strike ballot 2: Amazon sends a right Rosie Palm to parliament  

Snouts up foxes. After coming within a whisker of the UK’s first successful ballot to strike at an Amazon warehouse – missing out by only three votes – workers are now trying again in a campaign led by the GMB union. Early signs look good and they brewed up a rally for supporters last Friday with free hot drinks and snacks for workers. The Fox will take one stewed for five mins, lots of milk, no sugar. Ta!

Get all the details with PoliticsJOE’s report here.

Amazon gave a timely demo of just what workers are up against last week, sending along their top PR man in Europe, Brian Palmer, to speak at the British parliament about AI in their warehouses. It was a fragrant summary of Amazon’s usual bulls**t.

Goodness no, Amazon would never use AI to track workers every move on the floor, perish the thought! T’is only used for their safety m’lud. Threatening to fire workers for missing impossible targets in a secret ranking system? Why, not at Amazon sir, you wound me.

Labour MP Darren Jones was understandably unimpressed.

TikTok – Bogota, Big Brother and Berlin

As Musk shreds Twitter and Zuckerberg concentrates on plugging his rubbish Facebooked version of World of Warcraft (less dragons, more trolls), there’s a renewed focus on content moderation at the third giant of modern social media: TikTok.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and TIME published a harrowing expose of the conditions facing content moderators outsourced by French company Teleperformance in Bogota, Columbia. Teleperformance installed cameras in moderators’ home to record their every move, ordering them to remain on camera at all times and banning their families from appearing on-screen. A rare instance where the term “Orwellian” is actually justified.

Meanwhile, in Berlin, Germany, TikTok workers had a breakthrough on workers’ rights last month, electing their first works council with a slate almost entirely drawn from the Ver.di union, staunch allies of the struggle for better pay and conditions for moderators.

It’s a global struggle. The Fox sends our solidarity to content moderators in Germany and Columbia – the next step is communication across those borders.    

Challenging the consensus – Tanya says: “don’t spy on me”

Finally, TikTok and Facebook get away with how they treat moderators, in part, because of their market dominance – their monopoly. That same monopoly has allowed them to normalise a social media landscape where constant surveillance of our online lives is enforced in exchange for using their products. 

But what if it wasn’t? Foxglove’s new senior fellow Tanya O’Carroll, and founder of Amnesty Tech, has launched a legal case in England, challenging Facebook’s right to spy on her.

This matters to tech workers for two reasons. First: tech workers are also tech users. And they know better than anyone the depths to which the tech giants will sink to snoop on their every move because that’s their daily working experience. Tanya’s case takes aim not only at Facebook’s creepy tracking of its users, but the culture that suggests this kind of surveillance of anyone – including workers – is acceptable. 

Second, every blow against Zuckerberg’s monopoly is another crack in the consensus that the status quo is how things have to be. For tech workers to live free of exploitation, that monopoly, and consensus, must be shattered. Let’s get going. 

For now – that’s all Fox.  

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