THE ANC Youth League task team has raised the soap opera stakes in the Generations drama, calling on the SABC to reinstate the dismissed actors and pay better wages and royalties.
Task team convenor Mzwandile Masina said they had met the 16 cast members involved in a dispute with the public broadcaster and MMVS Productions, the producers of the prime-time evening soapie, on Tuesday.
He said it was clear from the meeting they were dealing with “a highly untransformed” creative arts industry in which the basic requirements of the Labour Relations Act were not implemented.
“As the ANC Youth League, we call on the SABC management to rescind those letters of expulsion and #BringBackTheGenerations16 (a campaign on Twitter) immediately,” said Masina, who is also the trade and industry deputy minister.
The actors have complained that the public broadcaster and MMVS had not delivered on their promises to give them three-year contracts, better salaries, royalties, and syndication fees on episodes broadcast in other countries.
The producers then gave the actors an ultimatum to stop striking, and to be on set on Monday morning or be sacked.
When the actors failed to arrive, they were dismissed. The SABC had described the actors’ wage demands as “Hollywood salaries”.
On Wednesday, the ANCYL task team called on the public broadcaster to stop acting the role of “a player and referee” in the dispute.
“Their demands are valid demands that every honest citizen and employer should understand. As part of our living-wage campaign, we call on the bosses at the SABC to pay the rates that were agreed to with the producers as an immediate intervention…
“In fact, we believe that local actors should be treated better than Hollywood actors in their own country.”
The league also demanded improved employment conditions and benefits for the actors.
“Our talented actors are still battling to receive UIF, pension funds, housing allowances, car allowances, medical aid and all other benefits that decent work is supposed to cater for. They are categorised, unfortunately, as freelance workers and this is tantamount to labour broking.”
Masina added that the actors had unfortunate “restrictive clauses” in their contracts that prohibit their ability to grow and maximise their career lifespans.
“Effectively, these people are employed on a permanent basis, but under conditions that disqualify them for a salary structure of permanent employees.”
He said the league would fight for the transformation of the creative arts industry to ensure that the artists’ and actors’ right to decent wages was realised.
Masina said the league would engage the departments of communications and of trade and industry for urgent intervention.
Meanwhile, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Wednesday that he was willing to help find a solution to the firing of some of the actors.
“We are willing to engage with all the relevant people to help find a speedy and amicable resolution to this matter,” he said in a statement. – Additional reporting by Sapa
- The Star
@MbalulaFikile: Am happy to learn that my colleague Min Nathi Mthethwa will meet all the parties in the Generations saga. Great news!
@davidkau1: #Generations Finally some SA actors are realizing their worth.
@gregnicolson: Is the ANCYL really going into depth on the Generations 16? Hardly a word on economic freedom, nothing on youth unemployment or education
@chrisvick3: Imagine a world where government and the ANCYL responded as decisively to Marikana as they did to #Generations.
@themba_m: The ANC is doing all it can to end the Generations labour issue. Too bad it didn’t show the same vigour with the mining strike.
@GarethCliff: I wonder, if a mine boss or a corporate CEO spoke about workers like Mfundi Vundla or the SABC do about actors on Generations...
@shakasisulu: Hearing the case of the #Generations cast it’s clear that creatives are dealt a raw deal owing to the structure of the entertainment industry.