Dismissed employees at Twitter’s African headquarters accuse Twitter of “deliberately and recklessly violating Ghana’s laws” and attempting to “silence and intimidate” them after they were fired.
The team hired a lawyer and sent a letter to the company demanding this comply with the employment laws of the West African country, provide them with additional severance pay and other relevant benefits, consistent with what other Twitter employees will receive.
They also petitioned the Ghanaian government to compel Twitter to “comply with Ghana’s laws on dismissal and provide workers with fair and just bargaining and severance pay,” according to a letter to the country’s Chief Labor Officer, obtained by CNN.
“It is clear that Twitter, Inc. under Mr. Elon Musk willfully or recklessly violate the laws of Ghana, act in bad faith, and attempt in any manner to silence and intimidate former employees into accepting terms unilaterally imposed on them. ‘ the letter reads.
Twitter laid off all but one African employee just four days after the company opened a physical office in the capital Accra following the Musk acquisition. But the staff of about a dozen were not offered severance pay, which they say is required by Ghanaian labor laws, based on their employment contracts. They also claim that – unlike employees in the United States and Europe – they were not informed of the next steps until a day after CNN reported on their situation.
CNN reached out to Twitter for comment, but received no response.
In the letter to Twitter Ghana Ltd obtained by CNN, the African workers rejected a “Ghana Mutual Separation Agreement” from Twitter, which they say was sent to their personal emails offering final pay that the company claims to have come about through negotiation.
Several members of the team and their lawyers told CNN that severance pay was not being negotiated. They claim it was below what is required by law and contradicts what Musk tweeted that departing employees would receive.
“Everyone who left was offered three months of severance pay, which is 50% more than required by law,” Musk tweeted. Twitter informed Ghana-based workers in early November that they would be paid until their last day of employment – December 4. And that they will continue to receive their full salary and benefits during the 30-day notice period.
“It was very vague, didn’t talk about overdue leave or paid time off, and just asked us to sign if we agreed. I never bothered to go back to the document because it’s bullshit and still violates the labor laws here,” a former employee told CNN on condition of anonymity.
The Accra-based team accuses Twitter of dealing with them in bad faith, lacking transparency and discriminating against them compared to laid-off workers in other jurisdictions.
“The employees are saddened, humiliated and intimidated by this turn of events. There are non-Ghanaian workers, some with young families, who have moved here to look for jobs and are now unceremoniously abandoned, with no provision for repatriation costs and no way to communicate with Twitter, Inc. case,” says the notice to the Chief Labor Officer of Ghana.
Their lawyer, Carla Olympio, says the sudden termination of almost the entire team violated Ghanaian labor laws as it is considered a “dismissal”, which requires three months’ notice to the authorities and negotiations for severance pay.
“In stark contrast to the internal company assurances given to Twitter employees worldwide prior to the takeover, it appears little effort has been made to comply with Ghanaian labor laws and the protections enshrined therein for workers in circumstances of mass layoffs. due to restructuring or reorganization,” she wrote in a statement to CNN.
The workers said in their appeal to Ghana’s Chief Labor Officer that Twitter’s formal entry into the continent began with “great fanfare and with the support of the government”. and they now expect similar attention to their plight.
They are demanding 3 months gross salary as severance pay, repatriation costs for non-Ghanaian staff, the vesting of stock options included in their contracts, and other benefits such as continued health care that were offered to staff around the world.
CNN has contacted Ghana’s Ministry of Employment and Labor Relations for comment.