22 ‘Ilanga’ staff fired for illegal strike

2012-11-06 00:00

AT least 22 Ilanga newspaper editorial staff members were fired following their involvement in an illegal strike on Friday.

They embarked on the strike demanding the reinstatement of their shop steward, William Phungula, who was fired on Wednesday.

The staff comprised journalists, photographers and sub-editors.

They are now calling for the public boycott of the paper.

Phungula was dismissed for leading a strike for better wages, which took place in April.

When the management would not hear any of their demands, the journalists paid a visit to the grave of the founder of the publication, Dr John Dube.

“Everyone must boycott the paper, from government departments [to stop advertising] to the ordinary people on the streets, so that we can be heard,” Phungula said yesterday.

The managing director of Mandla-Matla Publishing (Pty) Ltd (the entity that owns Ilanga), Arthur Konigkramer, said he was not worried about Thursday’s edition as they had been able to produce Sunday’s and yesterday’s editions.

“We managed to publish two publications so I hope that we will be able to produce Thursday’s paper, even though they [strikers] sabotaged the Sunday paper,” said Konigkramer.

He said he had warned the staff several times against going on strike. “I gave them three warning letters about this strike, but they refused to accept them. They are all fired. I followed the laws of the country. They can go to the CCMA [Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration] if they want to,” he said.

He added that disciplinary action was taken against Phungula before he was fired.

Phungula said the hearing against him was conducted unfairly. “I was charged with misconduct, but I was not afforded a chance to give my side of the story …”

Meshack Zweni, of the provincial Media Workers’ Association of SA (Mwasa), said the staff would continue with the protest outside the offices until the company made a decision favourable to them.

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