Cell C staffers to join Tiso Blackstar picket. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)
CAPE TOWN – Cell C workers will join Tiso Blackstar staffers in a plan to picket outside the Parktown offices of the media group today, following a go-slow that took effect on Monday, Information and Communication Technology Union president Moeketse Lepheana said on Monday.

Tiso Blackstar owns well-known publications, such as the Sunday Times, Financial Mail, Sowetan and Business Day.

Lepheana said Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s Commission into State Capture had also been notified of the picket and a planned strike at Tiso by employees next week. He said access to the building would not be guaranteed at these times.

Two weeks ago, when Business Report attempted to ascertain the number of planned retrenchments at Tiso as part of a wider survey of the extent of retrenchments in the media industry, Tiso Blackstar’s managing director, Andrew Gill, refused to comment.

However, Lepheana said Tiso had indicated to the union that it planned to lay off 50 people out of 1003.

He said Tiso had not provided a proper “business rationale” for the retrenchments as it made more than R250 million in profit last year.

Lepheana accused management of intimidating by issuing staffers with letters not to participate in the labour action as Tiso had been served 48-hour notice in line with the Labour Relations Act.

The union said previously that it had to resort to further industrial labour action because a series of negotiations with management since March this year had failed. "The company has pleaded poverty and disregarded the fact that workers suffer immense financial pressures due Tiso Blackstar’s failure to compensate them fairly,” the union said at the time.

In stark contrast to the labour problems, Tiso Blackstar’s share price shot up 13.33 percent to close at R3.40 on the JSE on Monday. In the financial results for the six months to end December, Tiso reported that its management had produced “solid results in tough conditions”.

The company said although its media business had remained stable in a “difficult and low-growth operating environment rising costs have forced a continued review of costs across the division”.

Media revenue fell by 5.9 percent to R702.1 million, while core earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation from the media interests had declined by 2 percent.

Attempts to get further comment from Tiso Blackstar management proved fruitless on Monday.

BUSINESS REPORT