Employees who were let go from Twitter’s Africa headquarters claim that the company “deliberately and carelessly” defied the laws of Ghana” and tried to “suppress and intimidate” them after they were let go.
The team has retained counsel and written to the company, requesting that it adhere to the labour laws 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.”
“It is clear that Twitter, Inc. under Mr Elon Musk is either deliberately or recklessly flouting the laws of Ghana, is operating in bad faith and in a manner that seeks to silence and intimidate former employees into accepting any terms unilaterally thrown at them,” the letter states.
Four days after opening a physical office in the Ghanaian city of Accra as a result of Musk’s takeover, Twitter let go of all but one of its African staff.
However, based on their employment contracts, the workers of approximately a dozen claim they were not given severance compensation, which is required under Ghana’s labour regulations. They further assert that, in contrast to staff members in the US and Europe, they were not informed of the following steps until a day after CNN covered their case.
Twitter was contacted by CNN for comment, but no response was given.
The African employees state in the letter to Twitter Ghana Ltd. that they rejected a “Ghana Mutual Separation Agreement” from Twitter that was sent to their personal emails and offered final compensation; the firm argues that this agreement was reached after negotiation.
There was no such negotiation on 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 needed by law and goes against what Musk stated about the benefits for departing staff.
“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 labour laws here,” one former employee told CNN on condition of anonymity.
The team from Accra claims that Twitter treated them unfairly, was not transparent, and had unfairly treated them in comparison to other laid-off workers from other countries.
“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.
As a “redundancy,” which calls for a three-month notice to authorities and a negotiation over redundancy pay, the abrupt termination of nearly the entire crew, according to their attorney Carla Olympio, violates Ghanaian employment law.
According to her statement to CNN, “it seems that little effort was made to comply with Ghana’s labour laws, and the protections enshrined therein for workers in circumstances where companies are undertaking mass layoffs due to a restructuring or reorganisation,” in stark contrast to internal company assurances given to Twitter employees worldwide prior to the takeover.
Twitter’s official entry into the continent began with “great fanfare and with the support of the government,” the employees claimed in their appeal to Ghana’s Chief Labour Officer, and they expect the same level of attention to be given to their current plight.
Their demands include the vesting of stock options granted in their contracts, 3 months’ worth of gross salary as severance pay, repatriation costs for non-Ghanaian employees, and other perks like healthcare continuation that were provided to employees globally.