Fired employees at Twitter’s Africa headquarters are accusing Twitter of “deliberately and recklessly abusing the laws of Ghana” and trying to “timid and intimidate”[ads1]; them after they were fired.
The team has hired a lawyer and sent a letter to the company demanding it comply with the West African nation’s labor laws, provide them with additional severance pay and other relevant benefits, in line with what other Twitter employees will receive.
They have also petitioned the Ghanaian government to compel Twitter to “adhere to the laws of Ghana on layoffs and offer its employees fair and equitable 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 is either knowingly or recklessly flouting the laws of Ghana, operating in bad faith and in a manner that seeks to silence and intimidate former employees into accepting terms unilaterally thrown at them,” it said that in the letter.
Twitter laid off all but one of its African employees just four days after the company opened a physical office in the capital Accra following Musk’s takeover. But the staff of about a dozen were not offered severance pay, which they say is required by Ghana’s labor laws, based on their employment contracts. They also claim they were not informed of the next steps – unlike employees in the US and Europe – until a day after CNN reported on their situation.
CNN reached out to Twitter for comment, but did not receive a response.
In the letter to Twitter Ghana Ltd, obtained by CNN, the African employees rejected a “Ghana Mutual Separation Agreement” from Twitter, which they say was sent to their personal emails offering severance pay as the company claims to have arrived at after a negotiation.
Several members of the team and their attorney told CNN that there were no such severance negotiations. They claim it was below what is required by law and contradict what Musk tweeted that departing employees would receive.
“Everyone who walked out was offered 3 months back pay, which is 50% more than required by law,” Musk tweeted. Twitter informed the Ghana-based employees in early November that they would be paid until their last day of work – December 4. And they will continue to receive full pay and benefits during the 30-day notice period.
“It was very vague, didn’t talk about outstanding leaves or paid time off, and only asked us to sign if we agreed. “I never bothered to go back to the document because it’s garbage and still violates 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, not being transparent and discriminating against them compared to laid-off employees in other jurisdictions.
“The employees are worried, humiliated and frightened by this incident. There are non-Ghanaian employees, some with young families, who moved here to take up work and have now been left unceremoniously stranded, with no funds for repatriation expenses and no way to communicate with Twitter, Inc. and discuss or plead. matter,” the message to Ghana’s Chief Labor Officer says.
Their lawyer, Carla Olympio, says the sudden dismissal of almost the entire team violated Ghanaian labor law because it is considered a “dismissal” that requires three months’ notice to the authorities and a negotiation of severance pay.
“In stark contrast to internal company assurances provided to Twitter employees worldwide prior to the takeover, little effort appears to have been made to comply with Ghana’s labor laws, and the protections contained therein for workers in circumstances where companies carry out mass layoffs due to of a restructuring or reorganization,” she wrote in a statement to CNN.
The employees said in their appeal to Ghana’s Chief Labor Officer that Twitter’s formal entry into the continent started with “great fanfare and with the support of the government.” and they expect similar attention to their situation now.
They are demanding 3 months gross salary as severance pay, repatriation expenses for non-Ghanaian employees, vesting of stock options provided in their contracts, and other benefits such as continuation of health care that was offered to employees worldwide.
CNN has reached out to Ghana’s Ministry of Labor and Employment for comment.