Yesterday (12 June 2009) will most probably go down in history books as the ultimate low point in the existence of the SABC.
Who ever thought the Green Revolution would end with armed policeman flooding the Piet Meyer building (the old apartheid name for Radio Park) trying to intimidate union leaders and threatening us with military action by the Army?
Arrogant, rude and power-drunk policemen with no regard for human rights or the law.
Who ever thought being a First Citizen would mean having no voice, no right to peacefully demonstrate, no right to attend a meeting with your union, no right to attend a labour dispute at the CCMA whilst being an applicant in the matter?
Who ever thought Human Resources would mean having Group Exco being guarded and escorted by security guards in the workplace, not because there is a real threat against anyone, but because they screwed up the SABC so badly they believe they are under threat?
How badly do you have to manage an organisation that you are scared of your own, peaceful employees?
So what happened yesterday?
After our interview on Morning Live the three union leaders (myself, Lungile from MWASA and Vulture from CWU) went to the Coffee Shop at Radio Park. Shortly thereafter Vulture left and Lungile and I remained, having some more coffee. Then the police arrived. Guns, radios, spare magazines – armed to the teeth. And then some more and more arrived. Whilst sitting there, minding our business, two officers arrived at our table. The one, a “Sup” was fat, arrogant with a dirty gun in his holster. The other one a short inspector who could not speak properly, but barked at us the whole time, flashing his gold filled front teeth. He was clearly on his own planet and demonstrated behaviour exactly as they do in the movies. I think I saw a Movie Magic card in his pocket. Without telling us why, he wanted to have our names and contact details. He struggled to write it down properly and we had to repeatedly spell it to him. We were informed that they received information that there will be illegal action. We denied that there will be any illegal action and we informed them that there is a possibility that a few employees may gather at reception to peacefully demonstrate their utmost unhappiness with Group Exco and the Board. The “Sup” informed us that the SABC is a National Key Point, and any action would be illegal. When I asked him since when would it be a criminal offence to peacefully protest in a workplace he responded: “We will arrest anyone gathering here at reception.” I said to him that they cannot arrest people for that. The fat and clearly unfit “Sup” responded “You will see it today”.
What possible threat could we be - two peaceful union leaders - the one a woman sitting by ourselves having coffee in a public Coffee Shop in SABC reception? What possible threat could a handful peaceful employees demonstrating their dissatisfaction with incompetent management be?
We assured them that there will be no action, but also said to him that we will file a dispute at the CCMA, and after we have obtained a Certificate from the CCMA, we will peacefully and procedurally demonstrate.
As members have the right to know what’s going on in the workplace and unions have the right to meet with its members, I SMS’d Phumelele (Chief People’s Officer) and requested permission for a meeting at 12:30. She agreed.
Andre Weber then refused. He for the first time ever wanted to have an agenda, formal letters and wanted to know what we want to talk about in the meeting. Security police stuff. And then they send people to lock the venue we have booked.
What a sick showdown of power by an incompetent Board and Group Executive. No wonder Senior Management have also no faith in them and is calling for their resignation.
National Key point or National F-up?
ANOTHER VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE
We are in possession of a memo addressed to Group Exco where the Senior Management Forum demands the resignation of Gab and Robin Nicholson in particular and has put a vote of no confidence in Group Exco and the Board.
Since all three unions also filed a vote of no confidence in Group Exco and the Board, we have collectively decided, as BEMAWU, CWU nad MWASA that since we have no confidence and trust in Group Exco and the Board, we will henceforth and until such time we have a legitimate Board and a new Group Exco in place only deal with the Senior Management Forum. They together with employees and our members are the backbone of the organization and we share the same concerns and fears.
We will formally write a letter to the Senior Management Forum (excluding Group Exco) to establish a forum where will jointly make sure the SABC is managed properly and where we will address our issues and concerns. We will have our differences, but at least there will be trust and confidence from our side. We will no longer deal with Group Exco until our demands are met.
A reliable source informed us that the wastage of money is still continuing. It has been reported that Mvuso, Thelma Melck, the company secretary (WHY SHE???) and 3 other senior managers in the past week went to Los Angeles to the screening of new programmes. Whe already have more than enough programmes to broadcast, and what is he and she doing there in any event? If the SABC wanted to buy programmes, why not sending people involved in buying programs?