A letter sent from the employees to the Ghanaian government reads:
“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 CNN, the African employees were not offered severance pay in accordance with Ghana labor laws. Unlike former Twitter employees in the U.S., India, Japan, and Europe, they were never notified of the next steps. Yahoo News reports that employees found out they were terminated via personal emails and were simultaneously locked out of their work accounts.
Twitter “is re-organising its operations as a result of a need to reduce costs,” reads Twitter’s email, according to the BBC.
One Ghana employee, who asked to remain anonymous, told the BBC, “It’s very insulting … From the mail to the lack of next steps to the tone of the letter. Just everything. Ridiculously insulting.”
The employees were told they would be paid until Dec. 4—just one month after being fired.
Carla Olympio, the team’s attorney, explained to CNN that the sudden layoffs were in breach of the country’s labor law, which demands a three-month notice to officials and negotiation about redundancy pay.
Twitter contends that negotiations did occur and that the severance amount was the agreed-upon rate. Every employee on record disputes this claim; the severance emails included rates below the legal threshold in Ghana, and offered employees no next steps, clarification, or information regarding health care or other benefits—again failing to meet the minimum requirements of Ghana’s labor laws.
“It was very vague, did not talk about outstanding leave or paid time off, and just asked us to sign if we agree. I never bothered to go back to the document because it is rubbish and is still in violation of labor laws here,” one employee said of the termination email.
In a statement to CNN, Olympio writes: “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 labor laws, and the protections enshrined therein for workers in circumstances where companies are undertaking mass layoffs due to a restructuring or reorganization.”
The employees are asking for their requisite three-month gross salary, reimbursements for repatriation for non-Ghanaian staff, vested stock options as written in their contracts, and the continuation of health care benefits as provided to the staff worldwide, CNN reports.
The Twitter layoffs have also been a horror show for members of the team who rely on the company for their visas to stay in the U.S. The employment-based H-1B visa allows companies such as Twitter to hire skilled foreign workers and bring them into the country. Musk’s “ultimatum” email last week, demanding U.S.-based Twitter employees respond to an email demanding they go “extremely hardcore” or resign, resulting in a loss of as much as 88% of the company’s employees. Those who remain, reports indicate, are largely H-1B visa holders who need their jobs at Twitter to remain in the United States legally.
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Data Hub, in 2022, Twitter had around 300 employees using H-1B visas to work.
A former employee who chose to remain anonymous told CNN that of those H-1B visa employees who were confronted with Musk’s edict to either commit to working “hardcore” or leave, many felt they had no choice but to stay “out of self-preservation. Firing folks who are on an H-1B in a major economic downturn is not just putting them out of the job, it’s tantamount to ruining their lives,” the ex-employee added.
Chicago-based immigration attorney Fiona McEntee explained to CNN that employees on H-1B visas are put on a tight timeframe once they’re laid off. They must act to quickly find new jobs—and with just a 60-day grace period, starting from the last day of employment.
“A layoff is hard enough on people, to begin with, but when you’re faced with having to leave what’s been your home for a significant time, it adds a whole layer of trauma to this,” McEntee told CNN.