SABC happy Labour Court dismissed union’s bid to halt retrenchments
Johannesburg - Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) said the Labour Court did not have a full understanding of the SABC retrenchment matter as the application to retract about 400 redundancy letters got dismissed.
Last month, the cash-strapped SABC issued retrenchment letters to about 400 employees in a bid to save about R700 million a year for the next three years. This resulted in a blackout as staff refused to go on air in light of the looming retrenchments.
In a brief sitting at the Labour Court in Johannesburg on Wednesday, the court dismissed with costs Bemawu’s urgent application to oppose the decision to retrench workers.
Judge AJ Snyman said: “The applicant’s application is dismissed. The first applicant is ordered to pay the costs of the application only as from November 20, 2020, which will include all processes served and filed as from that date and the appearance in court on November 27.”
Speaking to the media after the court proceedings, Bemawu president Hannes du Buisson said they were disappointed by the dismissal.
“We think that the court did not have a proper and full understanding of our matter. The court has said in the brief scanning through the judgment that we did not put the entire consultation process and all of those minutes which we did request from the SABC and they never provided to us with,” said Du Buisson.
He said the union would study the judgment in depth and it may decide to take the matter on appeal.
“This is not the end of the road for SABC employees. In terms of the process that has been followed, we have got what we wanted and that is further consultation, which is currently happening,” he said.
Du Buisson said the union wanted the dismissal letters to be withdrawn as they believed the SABC’s process was flawed.
“If any people lose their jobs and we are not satisfied with how the process proceeded and there are no reasons in our view for the dismissals, we will most certainly be back in the labour court and here to protect employees’ rights,” he said.
Meanwhile, the public broadcaster said it was pleased with the ruling.
Acting SABC spokesperson Mmoni Seapolelo said the Labour Court validated that the SABC’s Section 189 process was procedurally fair and that all participating stakeholders were afforded ample opportunity to engage meaningfully.
“The SABC conducted 16 consultative sessions over four months with multiple stakeholders, seven of those were facilitated by independent CCMA commissioners. This significantly exceeded the statutory minimum requirement of four meetings over two months. The SABC used these sessions as a platform to meaningfully engage in a joint consensus-seeking process,” Seapolelo said. He added that the SABC was committed to a fair and transparent process.