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PARLIAMENT- The Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) on Wednesday slammed as "disrespectful and insensitive" suggestions by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) that workers were "up in arms" over no longer getting free biscuits.

The SABC board appeared before the communications portfolio committee in parliament on Tuesday to present a plan regarding the looming retrenchment of staff.

The SABC's top management was pleading the case to retrench 981 employees and 1,200 freelancers and said it had handed the matter to the Council for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration.

The SABC said it would cut provision of refreshments and not provide catering for meetings as part of efforts to recover the R3 billion it needs to stay afloat. 

This riled Bemawu, which said the public broadcaster had portrayed workers as ungrateful and insensitive to its financial difficulties.

"To allege staff members, in the face of retrenchments, are up in arms because they no longer get biscuits at work, suggests SABC staff does not appreciate and realize their own dire situation and the financial crisis the SABC finds itself in – a situation solely caused by previous boards who failed to exercise its fiduciary/oversight duties," Bemawu said.

"It is extremely insensitive and disrespectful to portray SABC employees in this manner. It furthermore creates an impression the board is asking for a bailout to inter alia buy biscuits for up in arms employees. The truth is, biscuits have been stopped a number of years ago for staff. Only senior management and executives received biscuits in any event."

Bemawu demanded that the SABC board publicly apologise to all employees and set the record straight to parliament.

- African News Agency (ANA)