Twitter's Africa HQ employees ask Elon Musk to obey Ghana's labour laws

Former employees of Twitter in Africa have accused Elon Musk of flouting Ghana's labour laws following the mass layoff at the Accra-based office.

Twitter's Africa HQ employees ask Elon Musk to obey Ghana's labour laws
Twitter Africa team

It is almost a month since Elon Musk's Twitter takeover led to the laying off of several Twitter employees, including a 20-person team at Twitter Africa headquarters in Ghana that was launched in April 2021.

Following the global Twitter layoffs, the social media company agreed to pay three months' severance—and other benefits including healthcare and stock vesting—to its laid-off employees in America and Europe, however, it was not the case with the Africa office until several media reports.

Although Twitter has reportedly mailed an agreement offering a "certain pay" to the Twitter Africa employees, they have rejected the offer—"Ghana Mutual Separation Agreement"—and have since hired a lawyer to demand equal treatment with colleagues from other parts of the world.

"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," according to a letter by the ex-employees to Ghana's Chief Labour Officer.

These former employees are demanding three months' gross salary as severance pay, repatriation expenses for non-Ghanaian staff, vesting of stock options provided in their contracts, and other benefits such as healthcare continuation that were offered to other laid-off employees across the world.

According to Ghana's labour laws, the mass layoff—without prior notice—at the Twitter Africa office is described as "mass redundancy". Redundancy occurs when an employer contemplates the introduction of a major change in production, programme, organisation, structure or technology of an undertaking that is likely to entail termination of employment of workers in the industry.

The law requires the employer to write to the Chief Labour Officer three months before any of the aforementioned changes are carried out—this was not done in the case of Twitter. Also, the redundancy pay and the terms and conditions of payment are subject to negotiation between the employer or representative of the employer on the one hand and the worker or the trade union concerned on the other.

Although Twitter has said it negotiated with its former employees at the Accra office, they have since denied the allegations. "In stark contrast to internal company assurances given to Twitter employees worldwide prior to the takeover, it seems that little attempt 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 reorganization," Carla Olympio—the lawyer hired by Twitter Africa employees—told CNN.

Carla has confirmed to CNN that Elon Musk-led Twitter has agreed to negotiate with the laid-off employees at the Accra office.

Editor's Note:

  • This is a developing story...
  • The story was updated to reflect Twitter's latest reaction to the issue. (16:12 WAT, Nov. 22, 2022).

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