Their laptop screens were blank except for a tiny message. “This Mac is locked. The system PIN is required to use this Mac.”
For many Twitter workers, it was the first signal that their job had been declared “at risk” by new billionaire Elon Musk.
Some of the so-called tweeps initially thought it was an IT error. Then came the sad realization that this was linked to rumors of possible layoffs from the United States.
“When they opened their Mac, it had a six-digit password that they needed to gain access, which of course nobody had,” says a Twitter employee who asked not to be identified. “It was basically very brutal.”
A growing body of reports led to speculation there would be an announcement last Friday week, but workers said they had no idea “what that would look like”.
‘California’s ‘Warn Law’ requires 60-day notice of a massive layoff…who faces a class action lawsuit? Let us do this.’
A message around midnight the night before said an email would be sent to either her work account or her personal account. If it were personal, they would be affected.
“Many of us were out on Thursday evening,” says the worker. “What actually happened was people found they couldn’t access their email. They opened their laptop and it was locked.
“It started around 2 or 3 in the morning. Given the time, many people woke up to find out when to start work. In the US period there were people in the office and this happened to them. So there was a flurry of WhatsApps among the teams figuring out who’s locked out and who’s staying on the team.”
In the US, attorneys, including LA-based Lisa Bloom, were quick to make allegations of labor law violations.
“Hey Twitter staff getting fired tomorrow,” she tweeted. “California’s ‘Warning Act’ requires 60 days’ notice of a mass layoff. I know you didn’t get that notification… who’s in a class action lawsuit? Let us do this.”
A follow-up email from management to Dublin staff expecting up to 250 job cuts appears to meet Twitter’s legal obligations.
They are still employed there, they said, but have no access to the IT system, do not have to work and have been asked not to enter the office. It communicates with them via their personal email.
Tánaiste and Enterprises Minister Leo Varadkar said the social media giant broke no laws this week.
But the “unconventional” way of dealing with employees leaves him unimpressed.
Twitter says it will hold a 30-day consultation if necessary.
It is obliged to notify the Minister of its redundancy plans at least 30 days before the first redundancy.
Last night, a spokesman for the corporate ministry said it still hasn’t received a mass layoff notice regarding potential layoffs on Twitter. It’s received one from Meta, which announced large-scale layoffs this week.
Moira Grassick, chief operating officer at recruitment consultancy Peninsula Ireland, says she has worked in the industry for a long time and has never encountered the way the redundancies are being carried out.
She says aside from its obligation to notify the minister and consult staff, Twitter needs to show how it selects people for layoffs.
“It was extremely shocking,” says the Twitter employee about the announcement of the job cuts. “It’s interesting that Meta is getting it right, and there was an email from Zuckerberg.
“It’s also the tone of the emails, little things like unsubscribing from ‘Twitter.’
“One of the remarkable things about Twitter and the way it treats employees is that it’s very family-like and very inclusive across the company. Tone is very important and that was completely lacking in the email and that was shocking to people as well.”
A low-frosting message from Musk came as another big shock this week.
Aside from warning that there’s a good chance Twitter won’t survive an upcoming economic downturn, it said remote work was no longer allowed. Since last Thursday, everyone must be in the office at least 40 hours a week.
There are some people who only have long-distance contracts. You don’t have a pass to get into the buildings
Exceptions can be made, but managers must send a list of these to Musk for approval.
“I’m not sure what to do,” says the Twitter employee. “The general feeling is that we just hang around and see what we’re up against. The first email we receive from Elon Musk and the subject line is “Tough times ahead”.
“No manager here has been given advance warning on how to manage their workforce. One of the appealing things about Twitter was that it was completely flexible when it came to where you worked. There are some people who only have long-distance contracts. You don’t have a pass to get into the buildings. Most full-time employees are fully hybrid but can work wherever they choose.
“This is an additional reason why people could walk.
Musk’s stance will certainly clash with the government’s goal of encouraging remote work.
His call to return to the office comes just as Mr Varadkar announced he is speeding up legislation on the right to apply for remote work this year.
Thirteen original reasons for employers to reject an application in the original draft have been removed. Workers can contact the Workplace Relations Commission if they feel that an employer has not considered their needs.
When asked if there was tension with big tech over the bills, a ministry spokesman said “in general,” big tech companies were early adopters of remote work even before the pandemic.
“The benefits of remote work are obvious – less commuting, less transport emissions, better quality of life for workers.”
https://www.independent.ie/news/a-blank-screen-a-tiny-message-and-the-brutal-reality-the-end-could-be-nigh-for-elon-musks-irish-twitter-workers-42138663.html A blank screen, a tiny message and the “brutal” reality that the end may be near for Elon Musk’s Irish Twitter staff