Twitter has fired nearly the entire staff manning its lone office in Africa as part of new owner Elon Musk’s reorganization efforts for the social media app he recently purchased, according to a new report. The mass terminations came without any mention of severance pay just days after the physical office in Ghana was finally opened following remote work for about a year. The layoffs could also be illegal.
The reported manner in which Twitter terminated “almost all” of its staff in Africa has prompted the latest in a series of questions about how Musk is reshaping the social media app that he recently purchased for $44 billion.
While Musk has certainly been busy laying off large numbers of employees across all of Twitter, especially in the U.S., the lack of mention of any severance package for employees working in the company office in Ghana’s capital city of Accra stood in stark contrast, CNN reported.
“The company is reorganizing its operations as a result of a need to reduce costs. It is with regret that we’re writing to inform you that your employment is terminating as a result of this exercise,” said the Twitter Africa staff-wide email sent by the director of people services at the company’s Dublin office in Ireland.
CNN news anchor Zain Asher said that “nearly all” of the office’s workers were let go.
The mass email notification differed from the reports that Twitter offered its laid-off staff in the U.S. at least three months’ severance pay. The employees in Ghana were told their final paycheck would be on Dec. 4, exactly one month from the date they were notified of layoffs. It’s unclear if that is meant to serve as severance pay since the lone email notification of layoffs never made a reference to compensation.
CNN’s international correspondent Larry Modowo said laid-off employees in Africa were notified on Tuesday only after they arrived at the office to find themselves locked out of their corporate email accounts. Their company laptops were deactivated without notice, as well. They were finally notified of their layoffs via their personal email addresses just four days after beginning in-person work at the Accra office.
The senior partner manager for Twitter Africa tweeted a photo of the staff on Nov. 1, the first day the physical office opened. Another photo included what appeared to be a “care package” gift to employees from Twitter.
Similar to the hasty layoffs in the U.S. that have resulted in Twitter asking some of those terminated to return, the laid-off employees in Ghana were directed to “remain available” if they’re needed to assist with a “handover,” Modowo added. In the interim, none of the laid-off Twitter Africa employees are “allowed” to communicate with other staff, suppliers or clients, the company mandated.
Madowo said lawyers in Accra are investigating whether the layoffs violate labor laws in Ghana.
Laid-off Twitter employees in India were given two months’ severance pay, according to CNBC.
The methodology Twitter used to determine whether severance is granted was not made public.
Previously, Musk suggested on Twitter that he was being generous with the severance packages he was giving laid-off Twitter employees.
“Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50% more than legally required,” Musk tweeted on Friday, the same day the employees in Ghana learned their jobs had been terminated.
That came one day after a lawyer sued Twitter for failing to give at least 60 days’ notice of layoffs as is required legally.
“Twitter is now engaged in conducting mass layoffs without providing the required notice under the federal WARN Act,” the lawsuit says about the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, a labor law that “helps ensure advance notice in cases of qualified plant closings and mass layoffs.”
The news about the Twitter layoffs in Africa came on the heels of a report that hate speech and anti-Black commentary had soared exponentially since Musk took over the app late last month. Previous ownership heavily moderated such content.
That surge in the use of the N-word and other racist epithets on Twitter has promoted a growing number of brands to stop advertising on the app as racist trolls appear to be emboldened by Musk’s $44 billion purchase.
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