We begin this press conference with a message of solidarity and encouragement to all those who have lost their jobs in the nascent gig economy comprising supplies, delivery, outsourcing and ride-hailing due to shutdowns, bad labour practices, and lack of much-needed government protections. We urge the President, Parliament, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, the Directorate of Immigration Services and all other duty-bearers to act with speed to safeguard the best interest of all the affected workers in accordance with the Kenyan law.

In line with the above, we wish to state as follows:

WE BELIEVE that digital platform work represents an emerging and important aspect of the future of work. However, we also note that the rapid transformations in the labour marketplace are happening in a context that lacks the proper regulatory frameworks and/or weak enforcement mechanisms to ensure these transitions do no harm to the rights of parties involved, and that businesses do not violate the labour and related human rights of workers in their countries of operation.

WE ARE AWARE of several legal disputes lodged in the Kenyan courts in the past few months, including one in which more than one hundred and eighty (180+) online Content Moderators working for Facebook and Sama its sub-contractor in Kenya have sued the two companies for unlawful and unfair dismissal;

WE BELIEVE that just like the mass termination of hundreds of Facebook workers in Kenya, the sudden closure of some accounts for Remotasks and Jumia Food delivery services highlights the vulnerability of workers in this emerging realm of work, and especially those who depend primarily on such digital platforms work for their livelihood.

WE APPRECIATE that in a country grappling with significant levels of general unemployment (approximately 13%) and more specifically youth unemployment according to the 2019 census (approximately 39%) these digital platform jobs, including by companies and platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp and TikTok are increasingly providing important opportunities for many young people in Kenya, Africa and elsewhere in the world to earn a living and economic sustenance.

HOWEVER, questions remain about how to ensure a safe, empowering and dignifying work environment for digital platform workers including fair compensation and equal pay for equal work, labour mobility across countries and new dynamics about the treatment of digital workers doing digital platform work away from their home countries. More importantly, we know that digitalization of labour platforms has serious implications for the rights of workers to organize and unionise.


  1. The Government of Kenya’s focus on the idea of ALL and ANY digital jobs without evident consideration for safeguards to protect the dignity and human rights of the Kenyan workers in this new realm of employment;
  2. The absence of clear and comprehensive framework for the protection of digital and platform workers’ rights including access to the right information, and fair and humane treatment at all times;
  3. Lack of transparency and/or intentional misinformation during recruitment for digital platform jobs, and intentional targeting of vulnerable groups for exploitation under the guise of ‘expanding opportunities.’
  4. Significant, unreasonable and unconscionable disparity in salaries, wages and benefits between digital platform workers in Kenya and their counterparts in the rest of the world;
  5. Inability of, and/or unwillingness of foreign-owned Business Process Outsourcing companies to prioritise the well-being (especially mental health) of their workers and provide adequate support for those in need;
  6. Increasing impunity and violation of the laws of Kenya, including violation of lawful Court Orders by foreign companies under the watch of the EPZ Authority;
  7. Senior government officials’ appearances with, patronising of, and seemingly subtle endorsement of, and solidarity with foreign companies that are in violation of worker’s rights and lawful court orders. In particular, we believe that the President’s visit to Sama on February 27 with Ethiopia PM Abiy Ahmed at a time when the company is facing court cases over worker exploitation, human trafficking, and modern slavery sends a wrong signal.


  1. That ALL companies offering work in the digital platform work space in Kenya conducts a self-assessment of their operations to ensure they operate within the laws of Kenya;
  2. That the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Association of Kenya and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) hold their membership accountable for compliance in the spirit of self-regulation, and take steps to censure errant members for violations;
  3. That the EPZ Authority conducts and publishes a comprehensive compliance audit of all foreign companies in the digital platform work space in Kenya;
  4. That Parliamentary Committee on Labour commences investigations on the conduct of foreign companies operating in the digital platform work space in Kenya for unethical, discriminatory practices, including claims of union busting behaviour; as well as ensure formalisation of the gig economy
  5. That the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (CoTU) continues to stand in solidarity with all and any workers within the Republic of Kenya, and to offer support, solidarity and advise;
  6. Full adherence to Chapter 4 of our constitution and the labour laws in this country.
  7. That all demand for greater transparency and accountability from online task platforms operating in Kenya.


Project~ETHER is a Knowledge-Dialogue-Action project that exists to promote the realization of a safe, dignifying and human rights compliant labour market in the tech and related sectors in Kenya and the region.


Siasa Place

Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC)

The Youth Agenda

Kariobangi Social Justice Center

  • CSOs

    Dedicated Human Rights advocate with a passion for justice and equality. Extensive experience in civil society organizations (CSOs) promoting and protecting human rights globally.