S4C under investigation over bullying allegations
The board of S4C has commissioned a legal firm to investigate serious bullying allegations made by members of staff at the Welsh language TV channel.
Rhodri Williams, who chairs the broadcaster, announced the move on the channel’s evening news bulletin on Tuesday.
A letter written to S4C’s non-executive board members last Friday by an official of the broadcasting union Bectu said that at a recent meeting of the union branch, four of its members were in tears as they described their experiences of alleged bullying.
According to the letter, there was a toxic working environment at the channel and a lack of confidence in S4C management, with staff often feeling that they were ignored and belittled, undermined or patronised by members of the management team.
It said staff were often left in tears and were too afraid to raise concerns through the usual complaints process.
According to the letter, there was a meeting between union officials and S4C chief executive Sian Doyle last December.
It said she acknowledged that things had been very difficult and that management were to blame for the way people felt, but that the term “bullying” had been used too readily.
Although union members reported a short period of improvement, the Bectu official suggested that a mechanism needed to be established where individuals had the confidence to discuss their experiences with an independent investigator, who would reach a conclusion on where any blame could be apportioned and make recommendations.
Mr Williams told S4C’s Newyddion programme: “We got the letter on Friday and we set up a meeting of the board later that afternoon.
“I am comfortable that so far we have responded in the appropriate way and with the necessary speed.”
Asked whether the board would be prepared to take the difficult decision to sack staff if evidence of bullying was established, Mr Wiliams said: “I don’t think it is appropriate to speak in those terms at the moment.”
Mr Williams was non-committal as to whether former members of staff would be able to give evidence to the inquiry.
It is understood that around 20 staff members have left since last year.
The investigation will be carried out by Cardiff law firm Capital Law and could take several weeks to complete.
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