Commentary: Twitter’s mass job cuts by email may seem impersonal, but such practice not uncommon

Commentary: Twitter's mass job cuts by email may seem impersonal, but such practice not uncommon

Twitter is also expected to provide advance warnings of mass redundancies to California’s Employment Development Department. A representative for the agency told the New York Times that no warning had been given by the evening of Nov 3.

Under UK and EU law, companies must consult with staff over mass redundancies. This may explain why Twitter employees in the UK and Ireland are reported to have received a slightly differently worded email informing them that their job is “potentially” impacted or “at risk”.

An email sent to UK employees on Nov 4 (Friday) said they had until 9am the following Tuesday to nominate someone to represent them in a formal consultation. Twitter has notified employees in Ireland that they should also nominate employee representatives to engage in a formal consultation process.

Twitter did not respond to requests for comment on this process or about its communications with employees concerning these redundancies.

REPUTATIONAL RISK

With this level of uncertainty, it’s not surprising that some Twitter employees have been joining unions ahead of the redundancies. In the UK, Prospect is representing at least some Twitter employees and says it will support members to defend their livelihoods.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has argued the case highlights the need for workers across industries to have better opportunities and rights to join unions as a form of collective voice.

Similarly, the United Nations, which advocates for “decent work and economic growth”, has even felt compelled to comment following Musk’s acquisition of Twitter.

The UN’s high commissioner for human rights, Volker Türk, issued an open letter urging Musk to ensure that human rights are integral to the management of Twitter under his leadership, saying: “Reports that Twitter’s entire human rights team and all but two of its ethical AI team have been fired this week are not from my perspective an encouraging start.”

Civil society groups and alliances were already concerned about the direction Twitter may take following its takeover. Musk has called out “activist groups” for supposedly pressurising advertisers to stop working with Twitter.

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