The NUJ is demanding the reinstatement of World Service producers Abdul Hadi Jiad and Adli Hawwari by 10 March, after they were summarily dismissed by the BBC last week.
As it called for an emergency joint national conference with the BBC to negotiate the two journalists’ right to representation, the Arabic service NUJ chapel said that if they were not back at their desks by 10 March, the chapel would “reconvene to consider its position, in an emergency session”.
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The NUJ expressed outrage at the corporation’s breach of its disciplinary procedures in sacking the two Arabic service journalists, adding that World Service director Mark Byford and director of human resources Stephen Dando suffered a “serious loss of authority and respect” as a result of their violation of agreed BBC disciplinary procedures.
According to BBC disciplinary guidelines, Jiad and Hawwari should first have been sent home with pay until a disciplinary hearing was called. Then they would have been entitled to have a union official accompany them to the hearing, where a judgment should have been made. The journalists would then have 14 days to appeal, if they disagreed with the judgment.
Instead, Byford and Dando, with the approval of director general Greg Dyke, dismissed the two after “a review of the BBC’s relationship with the two men over a five-year period”. The review concluded there was a complete breakdown of trust between the BBC and the journalists.
A BBC spokesman said: “We recognise employees’ rights to raise grievances both internally and in the court. But we believe the system has been abused.” A BBC lawyer added: “These were exceptional circumstances. With internal procedures, you need a certain amount of trust for them to work.”
Jiad is accusing the World Service of racial discrimination, claiming he was removed from the Arabic service because he is Iraqi and not a member of any opposition party.
Hawwari said the BBC had refused to deal with complaints of discrimination at the Arabic service.
By Wale Azeez