Several Israel Broadcasting Authority employees, including several journalists, were recently summoned for questioning by the Civil Service Commission and shown photographs of themselves involved in various activities while they were clocked in as being on the job.
The photos were apparently taken by private investigators without the employees' knowledge.
The journalists among the group photographed are employed by Israel Radio and say that it is difficult to define their work periods each day, because sometimes they work outside of normal work hours. One such employee received a letter asking her to clarify her reasons for being in certain places at certain times, as documented by photos taken over several months.
"I was asked to explain where I had been at such and such a time on such and such a day," she recalled. "They asked me to account for hours when I had declared I was at work but was not at the office. I do most of my work at home. I can't work at the office, because there is no computer there for me, and my work often extends well beyond normal work hours. The problem is that everyone is very afraid just now. The reforms are about to be implemented and there will be a lot of layoffs. We feel hunted. Now it turns out that we were being stalked, and that is a horrible feeling."
The matter of the investigation and the tailings is troubling for other authority workers who were asked by the commission to testify regarding their colleagues. One of these was Israel Radio director Arye Shaked, who yesterday confirmed that he had been summoned by the commission.
"I was summoned last week," he said, "I did not know what it was about, or concerning which worker."
Some of the employees classified as journalists are actually musical editors or professional studio managers.
"It is unclear whether these people are actually journalists, writers or news editors, or if they are simply on the same pay scale as journalists and have work hours when they should be at the studio," said one authority worker. "The management is trying to check who is there and who is not and some workers have been called for questioning by the commission."
"There are few isolated cases that are being handled by the Civil Service Commission," responded a Broadcasting Authority source. "We cannot comment as long as the investigation is under way."
The Civil Service Commission confirmed that an investigation into the false reporting of work hours by a group of Broadcasting Authority employees is in a "very advanced stage."
"We employ various investigative activities during our investigations, including tailings" said a commission source. "Still, the commission is careful not to interfere with the journalists' freedom and there is no tracking of journalists meeting with their sources."
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