Twitter laid off workers in Africa last year. They say they’ve been ignored

Elon Musk, Chief Executive Officer of SpaceX and Tesla and owner of Twitter, gestures as he attends the Viva Technology conference dedicated to innovation and startups at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre in Paris, France, June 16, 2023.

Gonzalo Fuentes | Reuters

Former Twitter employees in Ghana, who were laid off in November, have been left without severance pay and have not heard from the company for three months, sources told CNBC.

As part of new owner Elon Musk’s cost-cutting efforts, Twitter fired nearly all of the staff at its only office in Africa.

Following the announcement of the wave of global job cuts, Musk tweeted in November that “unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day.”

“Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50% more than legally required,” he added, though it was unclear to which office and jurisdiction he was referring.

Under Ghanaian employment law, staff must be paid redundancy and should be granted three months’ notice before they are made redundant. Twitter’s workers in the capital Accra were given less than a month, according to the sources.

One former employee, who wished to remain anonymous due to sensitive nature of situation, told CNBC Monday that the workers requested compensation in lieu of notice and emotional distress damages as part of the negotiated settlement with Twitter, but both were rejected.

“Twitter has dealt with us in bad faith since we were laid off in November 2022. There was no attempt to even negotiate a severance with us until international news started to report on this, and after we had approached the Labour Office in Ghana,” said another source, who also spoke to CNBC on condition of anonymity due to sensitive nature of situation.

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“It’s been a tedious process and they rejected some of our requests, which we thought were fair given the circumstances and how we’ve been treated.”

Through their legal representative, the employees eventually reached out to accept what they saw as a watered down severance offer in May, but have endured radio silence from Twitter since then.

“We played ball and accepted the offer that they made just so we could move forward with our lives. However, they have completely ignored us since our lawyer reached out to theirs to accept the offer in May. For many of us, expenses owed have also not been paid,” the second source added.

Twitter responded to CNBC’s request for comment with an automated response.

The first source also told CNBC that “everyone is tired and frustrated.”

“This settlement is not even what was promised but we decided to just accept it and that has been a struggle,” they said.

“Some still haven’t gotten jobs yet, have families to feed and this severance will go a long way, so having it delayed in this [manner] is just so sad.”

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Since Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of the social media platform in October, Twitter has lost nearly half of its advertising revenue and continues to generate negative cash flow, Musk said over the weekend, along with shouldering a substantial debt pile.

The company also faces competition from new Meta platform Threads, which registered over 100 million users in its first week in operation.

Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern Business School, wrote on Friday that Twitter last week “became MySpace: a social network void of innovation being slowly euthanized by Meta.”

“The decline in revenue is correlated to its reduction in workforce, but not caused by it,” Galloway added.

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