By Naadiya Adams
Over a year ago, ITV was placed under new management, and employees have since been working in an environment they describe as a “living hell”.
Former CEO, Farhad Omar, left ITV Networks over a year ago, and the channel has been marred in alleged maladministration and late payment of staff since.
Allegations include a complete production halt, forcing staff to adhere to outrageous directives that seem to change daily, and failing to pay them timeously.
In Sunninghill, north of Johannesburg, the situation has now come to a head, as staff say they will no longer be victims and allow their rights to be infringed.
On Wednesday, the entire ITV staff complement, which has recently dwindled from around 60 to 28 members, embarked on a peaceful demonstration with the support of the Communications Workers Union.
“The community needs to stand with us, they need to take ownership, they need to put pressure, ITV currently belongs to the Ummah, and the Ummah must decide what they want to do with it,” said an emotional Mahmoud Abou-Zeid, General Manager at ITV.
While staff continue to work without compensation, they cannot do their jobs effectively, as many of the service providers required to do the work have also not been compensated.
Things have not been easy for news anchor Faraaz Patel; he says he cannot do the work he’s passionate about, as the news department has now ceased to exist at the channel.
“We are not able to do our jobs because service providers have not been paid, and because of that, we are not able to provide content for the Islamic community, we are not able to provide information to the Islamic community, and it’s not just the Islamic community that we reach, we reach the whole of South Africa and the whole of the nation.”
The Communications Workers Union spent much of the day persuading the employer to attend the picket to receive a memorandum of demands from the picketing staff. Subsequently, a meeting was arranged for 6 pm on Wednesday, the details of which have yet to be made public.
A statement issued by the CEO’s office at ITV Networks, ahead of the picket, rejected the allegations saying they were utterly baseless and added that ITV is the victim of a misinformation campaign and that the channel was going through a restructuring process to improve content.
“ITV is aware of the staff members within ITV who are inciting ITV staff and are the source of the misinformation and the agenda behind the misinformation campaign. The staff members in this group are being aided by a well-orchestrated PR campaign on social media which can be traced back to persons who have an agenda to take control of ITV.” read the statement.
The statement further added that since the parties referred the matter to the CCMA, this would be the appropriate forum where the position of all the parties can be heard.