Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Unions in talks with ministers over SABC job cuts

By Siyabonga Mkhwanazi Time of article published Jan 23, 2021

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Cape Town - The Communication Workers Union (CWU) believes it will be able to make progress with the government after President Cyril Ramaphosa responded to its letter about the SABC.

The unions are locked in a dispute with the SABC over retrenchment plans. More than 300 workers are expected to lose their jobs.

CWU general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala said yesterday that, after their march to the Union Buildings this week, Ramaphosa had responded and they were engaging with two ministers on the matter.

He said they went to the highest office in the land after they realised the SABC was not prepared to listen to their demands.

“We have taken the matter to the president where we will be able to make significant progress,” said Tshabalala.

The president told them he would get a report from Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.

Tshabalala said they would meet Ndabeni-Abrahams and Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi to resolve the issue.

He said the matter was urgent and needed to be resolved soon.

“From the side of the state and various political parties in Parliament there is a sense of being willing to listen and how we find a solution,” said Tshabalala.

He said the discussions with Ndabeni-Abrahams and Nxesi would be ongoing.

The SABC has been locked in a dispute with the unions since it launched a section 189 process to retrench some of the workers.

The public broadcaster had initially wanted to fire 600 workers, but the number was reduced to 300. But the unions and political parties are opposed to retrenchments at the SABC.

The public broadcaster has been incurring financial losses in the past few years. It received a bailout of more than R3 billion from the National Treasury last year.

Parties have said jobs must be saved at all costs at the SABC.

But management has said it needed to cut the huge and “unsustainable“ wage bill which was threatening the SABC’s financial stability.

Unions have urged management to consider other options rather than cut jobs.

Late last year, Parliament debated the crisis at the SABC, calling for a solution that saved the workers’ jobs.

The ANC has also come out in support of the workers.

Political Bureau

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