Twitter Inc. has agreed to engage with staff laid off from its only African office after they were offered worse-than-advertised severance packages.
Affected employees in the Ghanaian capital Accra secured conversations with Twitter after a letter was sent requesting the company to comply with local labor law, according to a lawyer representing the staff. About 20 people worked in the West African country office.
“We are looking to start negotiations as soon as possible,” the attorney, Carla Olympio, said in an email Tuesday.
Twitter spokespersons did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.
Elon Musk, who bought the company for $44 billion last month, laid off almost the entire African team as part of sweeping cuts, eliminating a division seen as part of Twitter’s future. President Nana Akufo-Addo tweeted in April last year that the office marked “the beginning of a beautiful relationship between Twitter and Ghana.” Jack Dorsey, then chief executive of Twitter, also said he was looking to move to the country “at some point.”
Since Musk took office, thousands of employees around the world have been laid off or have left. In Accra, an initial termination letter said employees would receive one month’s notice, later upgraded to one month’s notice plus two months’ severance.
That was still short of the offer Musk tweeted on Nov. 4.
When it comes to downsizing Twitter’s workforce, unfortunately there is no other option when the company is losing more than $4 million a day.
Everyone who got out was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50% more than what is legally required.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 4, 2022
“This is not a common situation and therefore Twitter must obey the redundancy provisions of Ghana law,” Olympio said. Companies must notify authorities at least three months before implementing a layoff, demonstrate that they are working to mitigate any negative impacts, and plan to negotiate severance pay.
“You can’t force anyone to treat people with respect, but you have to obey the law,” said Olympio, who runs Agency Seven Seven, an Accra-based business advisory firm.
Ghana’s Employment Minister Ignatius Baffour-Awuah has met with the affected employees. A ministry official declined to immediately comment when reached by phone.
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