The president of Radio Łódź applied to the trade unions for the dismissal of Małgorzata Warzecha, who represents the trade unionists in a dispute with the station’s new management. Last week, on tvn24.pl, we revealed that two strangers entered the journalist’s room with the consent of the radio’s management. While they were inside, someone interfered with the journalist’s computer. The president of the radio station claims that it was an audit ordered earlier. Opposition politicians and the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights got interested in the matter.
Last week on tvn24.pl we presented the events in detailwhich took place on Sunday, October 24 at the headquarters of Radio Łódź. We managed to reconstruct it on the basis of interviews with radio station employees and monitoring recordings, which we cannot publish but which we carefully watched. On October 24, at 11:09 am, two men appeared in the editorial office, who were led to the room of President Arkadiusz Paluszkiewicz by the head of the news office, Artur Wolski.
At 2:48 pm, the men entered room A206, where the editor, Małgorzata Warzecha, and another radio journalist work on a daily basis. Both were at work that day. The first one went home at 1:47 pm, the second one at 2:44 pm.
The strangers were introduced by the manager Artur Wolski. There are no cameras in the room so it is unknown what the men were doing inside. It is known, however, that when they were there, someone interfered with the operation of the device – this is evidenced by the so-called logs, i.e. computer work reports. The equipment, barely a few months old, discovered that while the men were in the Warzecha editor’s room, someone had opened the computer’s case. The interference in the equipment may also be evidenced by the fact that it was then that the failure of the radio computer system began, with which IT specialists employed by the editorial office (unaware of what was happening with the journalist’s computer) fought for two consecutive days.
The editor of Warzech has been working for Radio Łódź for 40 years. Since the beginning of October, he has been representing the combined trade unions of radio station employees in a collective dispute with the president of the radio – Arkadiusz Paluszkiewicz, employed in this position in April 2021. She only found out about what happened on October 24 after a few days.
The journalist initially noticed that someone unplugged the charger behind her computer. She also noticed that the casing of her computer’s CPU was slightly sticking out. She learned about what was happening in the editorial office thanks to the monitoring recordings. She reached them thanks to editorial contacts. The situation outraged not only her, but also many other journalists.
The editor of Warzech met with the editorial office of tvn24.pl and told about the whole incident.
– I think that no journalist and no human should find themselves in such a situation. When his own supervisor, the boss is secretly trying to get to his own employee’s computer – emphasized the journalist in front of our camera.
She was afraid that at the president’s request, “hooks” were sought on her, because – as she said – she was an obstacle for the management in “cleaning” the editorial office of independent journalists. Now he has to pay for these words with a job.
President Arkadiusz Paluszkiewicz made a formal request to the trade unions of Radio Łódź for consent to the termination of the employment contract without notice. Why? He indicated 12 points in which he states that the journalist acted to the detriment of the company, undermined the competences of the president and put him in a bad light, and took the camera recordings outside and – thus – allowed unauthorized persons (in this case it was about journalists tvn24.pl) could watch the images of people visible on the recordings.
– Someone who has committed a wicked act has a grudge that I noticed it and I had the courage to say it out loud. This is the only way I can comment on the president’s actions – says editor Małgorzata Warzecha.
“It was an audit”
The president of the radio announced on Wednesday (November 17) to his employees that the situation on October 24 was part of the “audit activities”. It was carried out – as the president said in an e-mail – “due to false information recently disseminated in the mass media”. The “atmosphere on the radio” was also to contribute to it.
He also emphasized that the company’s management board is authorized to order an audit “at any time and in any form, without having to inform employees about it”. He stressed that the procedure was lawful.
Questions & Answers
We wanted to ask President Arkadiusz Paluszkiewicz about the method of conducting the audit. He told us on Wednesday that he was ready to meet. Then – as he assured – he will present his version of the events and, by the way, he will confront “lies about him”, which were to be found in the previous article on the tvn24.pl website. Unfortunately, he did not want to indicate them over the phone. He noted that he would present them in person, and not in a telephone conversation.
The meeting did not take place. Shortly after the phone call ended, we received an SMS in which the president asked us to send us questions in writing. The answer was to be provided in writing. Taking this opportunity, we sent questions about why the audit was kept secret from the interested parties – including the editor Warzecha? Why was the editor of Warzech expected to leave the editorial office? We also asked why the activities took place without the knowledge and participation of computer scientists at Radio Łódź. We also asked editor Małgorzata Warzechy to comment on the dismissal decision.
The president replied that he would not answer the questions because they were related to “business secrets”. He indicated that Radio Łódź did not ask TVN24 for a list of recently dismissed employees, as well as for information about who and why conducted the audit.
– These are the company’s internal affairs and I believe that the press forum is not a place for resolving Radio personnel disputes – wrote the president.
In the center of attention
The Prosecutor’s Office in Łódź-Śródmieście conducts preparatory proceedings for the crime of obtaining information unlawfully. This crime is punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment.
– The prosecutor’s office issued a decision to secure the recordings from the cameras in the editorial office. Clarification of the case is at the preliminary stage – says prosecutor Krzysztof Kopania from the District Prosecutor’s Office in Łódź.
The computer of editor Małgorzata Warzechy was also secured.
Among others, the opposition MP, Krzysztof Piątkowski, became interested in the matter. He emphasizes that the editor of Warzechy “was very concerned” with the information about the attempted dismissal. He informed that he had applied to the Łódź prosecutor’s office for information regarding the ongoing preparatory proceedings.
– I will also make an official request to the chairman of the Culture Committee, which, at my request, discussed the situation in the broadcasting station in the summer, to inform its members about the latest events at Radio Łódź – said the politician of the Civic Coalition.
The situation is also monitored by the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights:
– Our concern was raised by the fact that outsiders could have access to content covered by journalistic confidentiality. Not only the journalist is obliged to comply with it, but also other employees of the editorial office and their superiors, emphasizes Konrad Siemaszko, a lawyer from the HFHR.
He adds that on this matter, an alert is likely to be published in the coming days on a special platform of the Council of Europe on journalists’ safety and media freedom.
The “audit” was to take place on October 24 at the headquarters of the radio station