Elon Musk’s loyalty oath demand triggers a crisis for Twitter

Twitter closes offices as new CEO's actions spark a wave of resignations.

18 Nov 2022| News

Global social media giant Twitter seems to be facing an existential crisis as a series of calamitous mistakes by new owner and CEO Elon Musk. The tech company is struggling to retain workers after Musk demanded that employees sign a pledge to work ‘long hours at high intensity’

This week, Musk told Twitter staff that they had to commit to working long hours and would “need to be extremely hardcore” or leave the company. In an email to staff, the firm’s new owner said workers should agree to the pledge if they wanted to stay.

Those who did not sign up by Thursday 17 November would be given three months’ severance pay. The company had previously said that it was cutting about 50% of its workforce.

Employees have been tweeting using the hashtag #LoveWhereYouWorked and a saluting emoji to show they were leaving the firm.

However, in the last 24 hours, the crisis intensified, making many question whether Twitter wouold survive. As reported by the Guardian:

“The crisis at Twitter reached new heights after hundreds of employees were reported to have rejected Elon Musk’s ultimatum to keep working for the business, threatening its ability to keep operating.

As the company temporarily closed its offices to staff on Friday, Twitter users began saying their goodbyes and linking to accounts on other platforms.

#RIPTwitter, #TwitterDown, Mastodon and Myspace were all trending on the platform after the deadline passed on Musk’s ultimatum for the remaining workforce to sign up for “long hours at high intensity” by Thursday, or leave. It has been estimated that hundreds of the remaining staff, already cut from 7,500 to around 3,750 in the wake of Musk’s takeover of Twitter last month, opted to go.

The departures include many engineers responsible for fixing bugs and preventing service outages, raising questions about the stability of the platform amid the loss of employees and prompting hurried debates among managers over who should be asked to return, current and former employees said.

In an early sign that the number of those declining to sign was greater than anticipated, Musk eased off a return-to-office mandate he’d issued a week ago, telling employees on Thursday they would be allowed to work remotely if their managers asserted they were making “an excellent contribution”.

Twitter later announced via email that it would close “our office buildings” and disable employee badge access until Monday, the New York Times reported.”

Meanwhile, one union representing workers in the sector, has demanded talks with the tech giant. Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, said:

“We are deeply concerned by further reports of the treatment of Twitter employees. From removal of remote working, demanding commitment to long hours and unsustainable working practices, and now locking employees out of their offices, we will not let these makings of a digital P&O pass unchecked.

We are urgently seeking a meeting with Twitter UK Ltd to discuss how it will manage its collective redundancy consultation, ensure a fair and transparent process, and meet its duty of care and legal obligations to employees, including those with particular needs. Prospect will continue to do everything we can to support our members at Twitter.”