Employees who were laid off at Twitter’s Africa office claim the company tried to “silence and intimidate” them after they were let go by “deliberately and carelessly flouting the laws of Ghana.”
The team has retained counsel and written to the company requesting that it adhere to the labor rules of the West African country, give them additional severance, and offer them other benefits consistent with those that other Twitter employees will receive.
According to a letter to the nation’s Chief Labour Officer that CNN was able to receive, they have also petitioned the Ghanaian government to order Twitter to “adhere to the laws of Ghana on redundancy and grant the employees a fair and just negotiation and redundancy pay.”
The letter claims that Twitter, Inc., led by Mr. Elon Musk, “is clearly behaving in bad faith and in a way that seeks to silence and intimidate former employees into accepting any terms unilaterally thrown at them.”
Four days after Musk’s takeover, Twitter constructed a physical office in the Ghanaian capital of Accra and fired all but one of its African staff. However, based on their employment contracts, the staff of roughly a dozen claim that they were not provided with severance pay, which is required under Ghana’s labor regulations. They further assert that, in contrast to employees in the US and EU, they were not told of the following measures until a day after CNN reported on their situation.
Twitter was contacted by CNN for comment, but no response was given.
The African employees claim in the letter to Twitter Ghana Ltd. that they rejected a “Ghana Mutual Separation Agreement” that Twitter sent to their personal emails, offering final salary that the firm claims was reached following negotiation.
There was no such discussion about severance pay, according to a number of team members and their attorney who spoke to CNN. They assert that it was less than what was required by law and goes against what Musk tweeted about leaving employees receiving.
“Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50% more than legally required,” Musk tweeted. Twitter informed the Ghana-based employees in early November that they would be paid until their last day of employment — December 4. And they will continue to receive full pay and benefits during the 30-day notice period. “It was very vague, did not talk about outstanding leave or paid time off, and just asked us to sign if we agree.
I never bothered to go back to the document because it is rubbish and is still in violation of labor laws here,” one former employee told CNN on condition of anonymity.
The Accra-based team accuses Twitter of dealing with them in bad faith, not being transparent, and discriminating against them compared to laid-off employees in other jurisdictions.
“The employees are distressed, humiliated, and intimidated by this turn of events. There are non-Ghanaian employees, some with young families, who moved here to take up jobs and have now been left unceremoniously in the lurch, with no provision for repatriation expenses and no way to communicate with Twitter, Inc. and discuss or plead their case,”the notice to Ghana’s Chief Labour Officer says.
Their attorney, Carla Olympio, says the sudden termination of almost the whole team violated Ghanaian employment law because it is considered a “redundancy” which requires three-month notice to authorities and a negotiation on redundancy pay.
It appears that little effort was made to comply with Ghana’s labor laws and the protections enshrined therein for workers in situations where companies are undertaking mass layoffs due to a restructuring or reorganization, she wrote in a statement to CNN. “This is in stark contrast to internal company assurances given to Twitter employees worldwide prior to the takeover.
In their letter to Ghana’s Chief Labour Officer, the employees claimed that just as Twitter’s official arrival into the continent began with “much fanfare and with the assistance of the government,” they now expect the same level of attention for their current situation.
They want the vesting of stock options granted in their contracts, 3 months’ worth of gross salary as severance pay, and other benefits like healthcare continuation that were provided to employees globally.
The Employment and Labor Relations Ministry in Ghana has been contacted by CNN for comment.