Soweto TV producers fight back for their jobs

Soweto TV sign on Vilakazi Street in Soweto. / Veli Nhlapo
Soweto TV sign on Vilakazi Street in Soweto. / Veli Nhlapo

Nine Soweto TV producers have vowed to fight for their jobs after they were fired in January, following disciplinary hearings.

The group was served with suspension letters on January 6 and only got their dismissal letters late last month.

They produced a variety of shows that ranged from sports, health, choral and house music, news, issues of women and cooking.

According to a dismissal letter to one of the producers that Sowetan has seen, she was dismissed for failing to produce new shows as instructed by the station, leading to a lot of repeats of her show.

The employees said their troubles started in November when the new management, led by radio personality T-bo Touch Molefe, wanted all employees to sign a performance contract without addressing operational issues at the station. Molefe is the station's acting CEO.

According to employees, the contract had a clause that gives management power to fire them if they failed to perform.

One of the producers, who did not want to be named since the matter was heading to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), said: "We refused to sign the contract because we wanted the issue of a lack of tools of trade be addressed. Firstly, we use one car to travel and shoot different shows. We also did not have telephone lines to contact people. When we wanted to engage them on that, with the Communications Workers Union (CWU) they served us with suspension letters."

Secretary of CWU Aubrey Tshabalala said they were disappointed that the station dismissed the employees while they were still engaging and had an agreement.

"CCMA allowed us to meet and engage with them before the proceedings started.

We had a meeting with the HR company where we spoke about the withdrawal of the suspension letters. And in that meeting they assured us there would be no employee who would be fired during the engagement process. We also discussed our organisational rights as the union. They turned around and fired them."

Soweto TV's on-air head of programming, Mandla Ncinitwa, said the producers were dismissed for gross misconduct and not for repeating shows.

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

X