Twitter’s fired Africa staff reach settlement deal

The company formerly known as Twitter reached an agreement with laid-off staff from its only African office following about a year of negotiations.

The affected employees in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, were fired in November 2022, weeks after Elon Musk bought the company. They began talks with the social network, which is now known as X, after their lawyers requested it abides by local redundancy laws.

“Agency Seven Seven has successfully led negotiations on behalf of former staff members of Twitter Ghana Ltd in their quest to get a fair settlement and repatriation expenses for foreign staff,” the Accra-based firm, which represented 11 former employees, said in a statement at the weekend.

The firm sent an auto-reply, “Busy now, check back later,” in response to an e-mail seeking comment.

The cuts represented an about-turn after Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo welcomed the company’s entry in 2021 as “the beginning of a beautiful relationship between Twitter and Ghana”. Jack Dorsey, who was CEO at that time, had also said he sought to move to the country “at some point”.

Just over a year after the Accra office was opened, Musk, who acquired the company for US$44-billion in October 2022, fired nearly all of the African team as part of sweeping cuts — eliminating a division that had been seen as part of Twitter’s future.

Read: X worth less than half Musk paid for Twitter

Since Musk took over, thousands of staff around the world have been fired or walked out. In Accra, an initial termination letter said employees would receive a month’s notice, without any mention of severance packages. A subsequent letter improved terms to a month’s notice plus two months’ severance. But that was still below the three-month severance offer tweeted by Musk on 4 November 2022.

‘Very resilient’

“There were times when we did not hear from them for a while,” Carla Olympio, a managing partner at Agency Seven Seven, said on Sunday by phone. “Beyond that, as you know, every negotiation process has some level of back-and-forth.”

While the case drew the attention of Ghana’s employment ministry, the outcome was ultimately decided through direct negotiations between the company and the aggrieved employees’ legal representation, she said.

“My clients have had to be very resilient because this was a long process,” said Olympio, declining to give details of the final terms. “They are relieved to put this behind them and look to the future.”

Elon Musk

One of the former Twitter Ghana employees said their experience should be a lesson for others “to be brave enough to stand up for themselves, no matter who they are going up against and no matter how long it takes”.

“No one is going to fight for you if you aren’t willing to fight for yourself,” Norvisi Sokpe Ndon said in a LinkedIn post reacting to the news.  — Yinka Ibukun, (c) 2024 Bloomberg LP

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