TV Personality and Presenter Palesa Chubisi has been reinstated by the Labour Court.
The court found merit in the applicant’s contentions that “the SABC’s decision was in bad faith, malicious and intended to humiliate and tarnish her reputation. If not, how does the SABC explain its conduct of conveying its decision to the applicant when she was in the middle of a live show? No explanation was proffered as to the reason the decision could not have been conveyed to her before or after the show. Without making any findings or conclusions on this issue, one cannot think of a more humiliating and embarrassing experience as a TV personality, other than being informed of a non-recognition of one’s employment contract during a live show on national television.
The Labour Court also came down hard on the SABC, criticising it for making “incorrect choices, and acted unlawfully and callously” and punished it with a cost order.
Judge Edwin Tlhotlhalemaje referred to the “sound advice of Moshoana J in South African Broadcasting Corporation (Soc) Ltd v Keevy and Others” which was ignored by the SABC and the clear remedial actions suggested by the Public Protector.
BEMAWU has repeatedly warned and cautioned the SABC to take heed of the advice given by the Labour Court in the SABC v Keevy and others matter and to NOT proceed to terminate the contracts of employees allegedly irregularly appointed.
This was ignored.
Consequence management must now be applied. Most certainly whoever took the decision to dismiss Ms Palesa and others must be held accountable for their decisions.
Employees received letters stating the SABC no longer recognised their employment contracts and the SABC unceremoniously sent them packing.
Judge Tlhotlhalemaje in his judgement found that the concept of ‘non-recognition of a contract of employment’ is unknown, unheard of, and foreign within the context of the LRA, or any other legislative provisions one can think of. In my view, it is a meaningless if not a vague concept.”
The Judge continued: ” The starting point is that nowhere in her report did the Public Protector speak of ‘non-recognition of the employment contract’. In fact, four alternative remedial actions were recommended by the Public Protector and the SABC, despite alleging that it had implemented them, chose an easier option, from which the question of unlawfulness and invalidity comes up.”
“Second, how does the SABC explain the easy option it took, when the Public Protector had guided it on how to deal with the applicant’s appointment. There is no reasonable explanation why the SABC could not have invoked the provisions of the LRA as suggested by the Public Protector to terminate the contract of employment, or why it did not look at its own policies as to how best to deal with the matter.
“It nonetheless gets worse for the SABC in that it never occurred to it that the applicant’s initial appointment at ‘Lesedi FM’ was above board. Nothing was said about that contract having been terminated. The ‘non-recognition of the employment contract’ which was based on the appointment from April 2016, nonetheless appeared to be for a clean sweep, with no regard to the legitimacy of her previous position. Clearly this leads to the invalidity of the decision, which in essence implies that there was never a dismissal within the confines of section 186(1) of the LRA in the first place.”
The SABC is on the same route with the S189 process.