February 27, 2024

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Laid-off Twitter Africa team ‘ghosted’ without severance pay or benefits, former employees say

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Former employees of Twitter Africa who were laid off as part of a global cost-cutting measure after Elon Musk’s acquisition have not received any severance pay more than seven months since leaving the company, several sources told CNN.

In late May, the former employees, who were based in the Ghanaian capital Accra, accepted Twitter’s (TWTR) offer to pay them three months worth of severance, the cost of repatriating foreign staff and legal expenses incurred during negotiations with the company.

But they have not received the money or any further communication, the sources said.

“They literally ghosted us,” one former Twitter Africa employee told CNN.

“Although Twitter has eventually settled former staff in other locations, Africa staff have still been left in the lurch despite us eventually agreeing to specific negotiated terms.”

The former employees say they reluctantly agreed to the severance package without benefits, even though it was less than what colleagues elsewhere received.

“Twitter was non-responsive until we agreed to the three months because we were all so stressed and exhausted and tired of the uncertainty, reluctant to take on the extra burdens of a court case so we felt we had no choice but to settle,” another former employee told CNN.

The former employees spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity because they said they were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements as part of their exit terms.

According to Carla Olympio, an attorney who is representing the former employees, the last communication from Twitter or its lawyers was in May, shortly after settlement was agreed.

CNN reached out to Twitter for comment on the status of the severance package for the former employees in the Ghana office but received an automated response – a poop emoji. It’s unclear whether Twitter still has a media relations department.

In March, Musk tweeted that Twitter would respond to all press inquiries with the poop emoji. He completed a deal to buy the social media platform in October.

CNN also asked Ghana’s Ministry of Employment and Labor Relations for comment. A spokesperson said they are investigating the claims.

Whether Ghanaian authorities can compel Twitter to comply with the settlement is uncertain. The former employees and their attorney say the offer was never finalized.

Recently opened office

The dozen or so team members were laid off just four days after the social network opened a physical office in Accra last November.

Some of them said they had moved to Ghana from other African nations, and depended on their jobs at Twitter to support their legal status in the country.

“Unfortunately, it appears that after having unethically implemented their terminations in violation of their own promises and Ghana’s laws, dragging the negotiation process out for over half a year, now that we have come to the point of almost settlement, there has been complete silence from them for several weeks,” Olympio said.

Twitter and Musk face multiple lawsuits where plaintiffs are claiming the company has failed to pay former stafferswhat they are owed.

Last week, a former US employee filed a proposed class action lawsuit claiming the company didn’t pay the full amount of severance benefits it promised last November prior to mass layoffs.

The plaintiff said Twitter promised senior employees severance of six months of base pay plus one week for every year of service, in addition to other benefits.

Instead, the plaintiff said they received a total of three months of pay, according to the lawsuit. In response to a request for comment on the lawsuit, Twitter sent CNN an automated poop emoji.

In April, Musk told the BBC more than 6,000 people had been laid off since he completed his acquisition of the company in late October.

“We’re exploring our options with respect to causes of action against Twitter in various jurisdictions including Ghana,” Olympio told CNN.

Twitter did not open negotiations with the African team until after CNN reported in November that they had been offered separation terms that differed from those offered to departing staff in Europe and North America.

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