Gloves off over SABC disciplinary threats

Johannesburg – The Broadcasting Electronic Media and Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) has dared the SABC to suspend or take any action against news staff members who took part in an internal meeting and those that flighted the meeting on TV news bulletin during a meeting about retrenchments.

The union has also called on the public broadcaster to implement consequence management against its chief operating officer, Ian Plaatjies, allegedly for lying to staff during one of the internal meetings in which he allegedly told employees that they were failed by their unions.

Plaatjies allegedly told the meeting that the unions failed to make any submission or proposal to help the SABC to avert retrenchments.

These details are contained in a scathing letter sent by Bemawu president Hannes du Buisson to SABC’s head of human resources Mojaki Mosia dated November 23.

In the letter, Du Buisson dares the media organisation to take action against union members whom he said are now being targeted following a meeting with SABC group executive for news Phathiswa Magopeni, which was also attended by Plaatjies.

In the letter seen by Sunday World, Du Buisson said his union has gotten wind of information that plans were afoot to charge employees who attended the meeting and those who flighted the meeting on TV news bulletin. He cautioned the public broadcaster, stating that this will amount to victimisation.

Du Buisson said the planned action by the SABC was misplaced, noting tha employees were merely exercising their freedom of expression.

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“Furthermore, by attempting to discipline employees who have broadcasted these events, will constitute serious editorial interference. What took place is of national importance and was carried as main news by every news service.

“Should the SABC proceed to suspend or discipline those employees involved, we will seek mandate to file for a strike to protect the rights of those workers, and to furthermore protect the editorial integrity of the SABC,” said Du Buisson, while also urging the public broadcaster to confirm in writing that the media organisation will not proceed with plans to charge the employees.

In the same letter, Bemawu also raises concerns against SABC chief operating officer that the executive was spreading false information about the union to employees.

The union, which represents most of the employees at the public broadcaster, accused Plaatjies of telling employees that they were failed by their unions, indicating that they did not submit any single proposal or submission to help the SABC to avert retrenchments.

Du Buisson said Plaatjies was lying because the media organisation has acknowledged in its affidavit deposed under oath that Bemawu has made a submission of 177 pages to the SABC in relation to retrenchments.

“We demand consequence management in this respect. Kindly confirm the consequence management that will be instituted, or are executives immune from same?” reads the letter.

SABC spokesperson Mmoni Seapolelo said it encourages the unions and staff members to raise their concerns through the correct channels.

She said the COO has not lied to employees about the section 189 process and said the SABC would respond to B.

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