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Last year, Twitter laid off workers in Africa. They say they were ignored

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla and owner of Twitter, gestures during the Viva Technology conference on innovation and startups at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, France, on June 16, 2023.

Gonzalo Fuentes | Reuters

Former Twitter employees in Ghana who were laid off in November have been left without severance pay and have not heard from the company for three months, sources told CNBC.

As part of new owner Elon Musk’s cost-cutting efforts, Twitter has laid off nearly all of the staff at its sole office in Africa.

After announcing a wave of global job cuts, Musk tweeted in November that “unfortunately, there is no choice when the company is losing over $4 million a day.”

“All those who resigned were offered 3 months of severance, which is 50% more than required by law,” he added, although it was unclear which position or jurisdiction he was referring to.

According to Ghana’s employment law, employees must receive severance pay and be given three months’ notice. According to sources, Twitter workers in the capital Accra were given less than a month.

One former employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the situation, told CNBC on Monday that the workers had asked for compensation in lieu of notice and emotional damages as part of the settlement with Twitter, but both were rejected.

“Twitter has treated us unfairly since we were fired in November 2022. There wasn’t even an attempt to negotiate with us about the breakup until international news started reporting it and after we approached the Ghana Labor Bureau,” said another source, who also spoke to CNBC on condition of anonymity due to delicate nature of the situation.

“It was a tedious process and they rejected some of our requests that we thought were fair given the circumstances and the way we were treated.”

Through their legal representative, the employees were eventually able to accept what they saw as a watered-down severance offer in May, but have endured Twitter radio silence ever since.

“We played ball and accepted the offer they made so we could move forward. However, they have completely ignored us since our lawyer asked them to accept the offer in May. For many of us, debt has increased. they didn’t pay either,” the second source added.

Twitter responded to CNBC’s request for comment with an automated response.

The first source also told CNBC that “everyone is tired and frustrated.”

“This settlement is not even what was promised, but we decided to just accept it and it was difficult,” they said.

“Some haven’t got a job yet, they’ve got families to feed and that severance pay is going to be really important, so it’s being delayed in this [manner] just so sad.”

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Since Musk bought the social media platform for $44 billion in October, Twitter has lost nearly half of its ad revenue and continues to generate negative cash flow, Musk said over the weekend, while also taking on a significant pile of debt.

The company also faces competition from new platform Meta Threads, which signed up more than 100 million users in its first week of operation.

Scott Galloway, a marketing professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, wrote Friday that Twitter last week “turned into MySpace: a social network devoid of innovation that Meta is slowly euthanizing.”

“The decline in revenue is related to, but not caused by, the reduction in the workforce,” Galloway added.

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