Telkom Media bosses and their staff were paid huge bonuses last year despite having hardly done a dayÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s work, writes Wisani wa ka Ngobeni.
The company, a subsidiary of Telkom, dished out the bonuses in a bid to retain the nearly 100-strong workforce hired after the company won a pay-TV licence in 2007.
Major shareholder Telkom has already spent well over R400-million to help launch the company, but in May last year the Telkom board surprisingly announced that it had decided to sell its stake in the operation.
Telkom is planning to reduce its funding of Telkom Media from R7.5- billion to R5.3-billion.
Because of this, preparations for the launch of the pay-TV service and news channel ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â initially scheduled for the middle of last year ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â were put on hold and broadcasting equipment worth millions of rands remained idle in warehouses.
Staff, including senior managers, journalists and technicians, are still reporting for work every day at the companyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s premises in Centurion ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â but have nothing to do.
Two senior staffers who did not want to be named confirmed that bonuses of at least a monthÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s salary had been paid to all staff.
One said he and some of his colleagues were ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œdemoralisedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â at having to go to work every day for no reason.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œPeople come to work for an hour or two and then they all go home. Even if you wanted to work, there is nothing to do. Everyone has a desk, computer and telephone, but there is no work.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
He said staff were concerned about negotiations with prospective buyers of Telkom Media as they did not know if they would keep their jobs.
Salaries are paid monthly and staff receive full benefits including medical aid and pensions.
Telkom Media spokesman Chris van Zyl on Thursday refused to comment on the bonuses.
Communication WorkersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ Union national treasurer Richard Poulton reacted with outrage when told of the bonuses.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe believe this is very inappropriate. Telkom Media is making huge losses financially. It is not generating any revenue for Telkom. Bonuses should be linked to performance of the company and Telkom Media is not performing and there is no justification for bonuses,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he said.
Click here to read the full report, posted on The Times's website.