Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Freedom of Expression Institute concerned by violations of workers

By Anele Siwa
20 November 2007

The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) is concerned by the growing number of violations of the freedom of expression of workers.

“Four cases have been brought to the FXI's attention, of workers who are either being disciplined for utterances they have made, or who have already been dismissed,” says their Executive Director Jane Duncan.

According to Duncan the cases are as follows:
Director of Performance Management in the City of Cape Town, Themba Jack, is being disciplined for serious misconduct, insubordination and bringing the City into disrepute, for writing a letter to the MEC for Local Government and Housing in November 2006.

In another case involving a SAMWU member, Eastern Cape SAMWU Provincial Chairperson, David Toyis, has been suspended by the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, pending a disciplinary hearing into misconduct. He is being charged with several offences relating to a meeting of workers he addressed in Port Elizabeth.

In February 2007, the Metsimaholo municipality instituted disciplinary proceedings against municipal employee and Cosatu chairperson in the Free State, Patrick Seshea, for, amongst other things, criticising the Municipality in the media.

A member of the General Industries Workers Union of South Africa (Giwusa), Bongani Ntuli, is being disciplined by his employer, Capacity Outsourcing, for distributing a pamphlet at a picket outside Johnnic Communications, which the company claims contains ‘information that is derogatory and offensive to the good name of the company’.

According to Duncan these cases point to a growing trend where attempts are being made by employers to silence criticisms of their management practices, calling into question the commitment of employers to upholding the Constitutional rights of their employees.

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