In a report carried by the Cape Times (28/11/2006), Karen Breytenbach misrepresented a case before the CCMA as an allegation of “being dismissed unfairly”. Documents, now before the labour court, reflect the fact that the allegation is one of unfair discrimination, and the only remedy available, it will be argued, is for the case to be treated as an unfair dismissal. This is a far cry from the report published on November 28, in which Breytenbach makes various allegations concerning my relationship with the media.
Further, she claims that I have “in the past taken or threatened to take other employers in the media industry – including the Cape Times – to the CCMA, without success.” This is a blatant lie, since the matter she refers to, was an in limine hearing following an allegation made by one of Independent Media’s employees, the late Colin Howell, who maintained that no relationship existed between the company and myself. This despite my having worked for the Cape Times on an ad hoc basis for over three years.
Not only were my articles, as a correspondent for the Arts and Culture desk, published on more than 20 occasions, but I have a copy of a contract which states that I also subbed the paper.
The in limine hearing found that I was a freelance journalist and independent contractor and that the CCMA consequently had no juridiction over the matter. My application to be considered as a de facto employee, as per the demands of Independent Group’s own accounts department was unsuccessful. It is the Independent Group which had insisted on placing me on a common wage/pay packet, and which routinely underpaid me for work commissioned by various editors, (and for which I have documentation), and which ironically refused to accept my invoices as a freelance professional.
When war in Afganistan erupted I was summarily dismissed for questioning Howell’s stance viz. vi. the War Against Terror. Subsequently I joined the International Anti-War Movement and have been an outspoken critic of the policies of George W. Bush and the neo-conservative agenda.
Having dealt with the matter via the CCMA, I then sued the company for several amounts outstanding and won a judgement in the Small Claims court for R1212.50, a fact to which the Independent Group still maintains it was not liable. I challenge the editor of the Cape Times, Tyrone August, to show why his company is not in the wrong, and to explain to the public why there is no transparency with regard to its treatment of casual employees and contractors.
David Robert Lewis