File photo: IOL

CAPE TOWN - Progressive Professionals Forum(PPF) office of the Secretary General Luther Lebelo, has issued a statement calling on First National Bank (FNB) to reinstate the 'FNB 4' with immediate effect.

According to a statement on Tuesday, PPF notes with grave concern and disappointment the reports that FNB has dismissed four of its employees on the basis of them exercising their democratic rights to expressing their social and political views.

“Of grave concern is that the alleged main reason why they were dismissed is due to their comments of the leader of Democratic Alliance (DA) Mr. Maimane and the general unhappiness with the state of oppression and racism within FNB and generally in the country,” said Phapano Phasha, PPF Spokesperson.

Phasha added that “the silence of the CEO of FNB on this matter is too loud. Lately, he was vocal on his decision not to board SAA but very silent on the dismissal of employees for their freedom of speech. It is so unfortunate and disingenuous that FNB will not act on people who criticize people of other races, the ANC, and its government but will act arbitrary and unjustly to punish those who complain about racism and oppression as well as DA”.

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PPF stated that it was further shocked that FNB will go all out to violate employees rights by monitoring their emails and their WhatsApp chats.
“To that end, PPF calls on FNB to immediately reinstate the 'FNB 4' and apologise to them for the embarrassment and harm they have caused them and pay back all the monies they have lost,” said the office of the Secretary General.

Adding that “should FNB fail to adhere to the above demand, PPF will mobilize all its members and all progressive professionals all over the country to withdraw their membership from FNB and join our banks”.

Siphesihle Jele, Simon Masimula, Sipho Coke and Xolani Nkosi, who were employed as premium bankers at FNB in Inanda, Sandton, were fired for “political talk and using insulting language” after the bank monitored their business e-mails and WhatsApp group conversations for several months last year.

Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) had also condemned the unfair dismissal the employees and demanded FNB to reconsider their decision to dismiss and reinstate them as soon as possible.  

In a statement released by Cosatu, it read, "No worker should be denied their right to earn a living because of some verbal infelicities. These workers have a constitutionally protected right to hold and express their views. While all employers have a legitimate level of curiosity on what their employees do and say during working hours, we reject the idea that people should be punished for participating in national discourse, even if they are using a flippant and jeering tone."