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Ex-Facebook staff to sue Samasource, Meta for contempt

 A woman holds a smartphone in front of Facebook's new rebrand logo Meta, October 28, 2021. [Reuters]

Facebook moderators will now pursue the directors of Meta and labour outsourcing firm Samasource Kenya EPZ for disobedience of court orders after the talks collapsed.

The moderators’ lawyer Mercy Mutemi told the Employment and Labour Relations Court (ELRC) Monday that Meta and Samasource were not genuinely seeking to engage in talks to resolve the case out of court.

“The matter is coming up for mediation. Unfortunately, the mediation was not successful. We felt there was no genuine effort from the respondents to reach an out-of-court settlement. In the circumstances, we pray that we proceed to the two contempt applications pending before you,” said Mutemi.

 On the other hand, Meta and Samasource stated that they got letters from the moderators’ lawyer on the eve of the hearing, indicating that they were no longer interested in talks.

“On the mediation, we were of the view that parties were making progress but this morning, we woke up to correspondences from my colleague that she no longer wishes to engage in a mediation session. We had no choice but to come before you,” Meta and Samasource lawyers responded.

 Justice Nduma Nderi said the collapse of the talks was a missed opportunity for the country and labour sector. According to him, a court settlement of the case would have set a precedent for multinationals outsourcing labour in the country, while at the same time, giving confidence in Kenya’s labour market.

According to Mutemi, the talks collapsed owing to Meta and Samasource allegedly buying time.

The application to hold Meta and Samasource bosses into account for allegedly disobeying court orders stems from an order that barred the social media giant Meta from cutting ties with Facebook moderators.

The moderators claimed that Meta terminated its contract with Samasource. The affected employees alleged that Meta has instead contracted Majorel to hire new staff for the same services.

Justice Nderi ordered Meta not to recruit new moderators through Majorel until the case is heard and determined.

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