SABC intends to suspend 'overworked' editors

2015-09-09 15:09
(Photo: SABC website)

(Photo: SABC website)

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The SABC intends to suspend four assignment editors who were part of a group that are fighting their bosses for promotions and better benefits equal to their workload at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

Crosby Amos, Ronel van Zyl, Faith Daniels and Clive Govender, who are based in the public broadcaster’s Johannesburg offices, were this week slapped with letters of intention to suspend them for allegedly disclosing information to the media in relation to their unfair labour practice dispute, which was reported on in the City Press over the weekend.

The letters are said to have been signed by the organisation’s head of news, Jimi Matthews.

Their representative and president of the president of the Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union, Hannes du Buisson, has in a letter to management expressed “utmost shock, disbelief” at the decision by SABC management against his members.

“Our members cannot be suspended for something they have not done. It is furthermore not necessary to suspend an employee to investigate the matter,” a letter penned to the SABC reads.

Du Buisson had informed City Press last week about the CCMA battle in which the journalists were demanding higher positions and better benefits equal to the workload.

He said the disputes were not based on positions but on the fact that the four were performing well and deserved to be rewarded accordingly.

City Press sources said the four editors, including Govender and Daniels, were under immense pressure and were unhappy about the level of incompetency in some of the regions. Work was said to have been piling up on them while they were paid less than other colleagues in the same positions around the country.

“They are acting as de facto central desk editors,” said one insider.

Their fight, which could force the SABC to create new positions of “national assignment” editors, will see the subpoena of Matthews by the CCMA when the case gets under way in the first week of October.

Within days of the union warning against his members being victimised, they were served with letters citing misconduct on their part.

Du Buisson said the intended suspensions made a mockery of the CCMA process and had instilled fear.

“We submit that the suspension process is used in a manner intended to instil fear and silence and should the suspensions proceed, we will exercise our rights on behalf of our members,” his letter reads.

“This attitude of the SABC is a clear demonstration of management by fear and a total disregard of the constitutional right of freedom of speech.

“We do not believe this is the way to deal with labour disputes and loyal SABC employees who pursue their rights in respect of a workplace issue.”

He added that the intended suspensions were not consistent with the SABC policy nor were they valid or fair reasons for a suspension.

Du Buisson told City Press he also intended to seek advice from the CCMA on how to proceed.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the SABC respected the CCMA process and would not comment because this was a matter between the employer and employee.

“The corporation has, as per norm, issued letters for the employees to explain themselves about the utterances made in the media and therefore we cannot comment further or make any conclusions on this issue until they have responded to the SABC directly, not through the media,” he said.

“Anyone who is not designated to speak to the media and does so will have contravened their employment contract.”

Read more on:    sabc  |  ccma

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