SABC employess will take to the streets and hand over a memorandum of demands to the government at Union Buildings on Wednesday over retrenchments at the public broadcaster. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)
SABC employess will take to the streets and hand over a memorandum of demands to the government at Union Buildings on Wednesday over retrenchments at the public broadcaster. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)

SABC staff to march to Union Buildings over looming retrenchments

By Chulumanco Mahamba Time of article published Jan 20, 2021

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Johannesburg - SABC employees will take to the streets and hand over a memorandum of demands to the government at Union Buildings on Wednesday over retrenchments at the public broadcaster.

In November, the cash-strapped SABC issued retrenchment letters to about 400 employees in a bid to save about R7000-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 at the public broadcaster.

The Labour Court in Johannesburg also ruled that Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union (BEMAWU)’s urgent application to oppose the decision to retrench workers was dismissed with costs in December.

On January 7, the public broadcaster announced that it had concluded its Section 189 process after it had suspended the execution of the process in November to enable management to further engage directly with employees on the proposed structures.

“After considering all options to minimise the total number of affected employees, the SABC has further reduced the number of affected redundant employees to 303 – just under half of the originally projected 600 redundancies,” the SABC said in a statement.

Unions at the SABC, including Communication Workers Union (CWU) and BEMAWU, are unhappy with the ongoing process.

As a result, the members of the unions have vowed to march in Pretoria today to hand over a memorandum of demands to the government in a joint protest action.

CWU General-Secretary, Aubrey Tshabalala told The Star that the union served a notice to strike to the public broadcaster on Friday. The general-secretary said the unions’ main demand is for SABC to stop the retrenchment process.

Tshabalala said that by instituting retrenchment, the SABC would be killing the capacity for in-house content to be generated, and outsourcing would be required to fill in the gaps.

“There is a perception that if you retrench, now there is a chance of cutting costs. However, the contrary will happen because there are more costs that they are incurring by retrenching these workers,” the general-secretary said.

He said SABC had not demonstrated any form of trying to create a new revenue stream to build a capacity to be self-sustainable.

“They are merely retrenching workers to create immediate profit which will be artificial and unsustainable,” he said.

He added that the current retrenchment process does not mean that after these workers are retrenched that the SABC would not need a bailout from the government or no additional requirements to retrench other workers.

“We’ve seen the same modus operandi are other state-owned enterprises like Telkom, so we are saying ‘Let us fight without boots on’ and if the government supports the process at least we will be there to say we have seen the fault lines around this issue,” he said.

The workers are further demanding that the board of the SABC be dissolved and for the public broadcaster to be placed under administration.

“We are calling for this board to be dissolved because this board seems to be interested in supporting and feeding their own tummies as individuals,” Tshabalala said.

He added that the workers want the SABC to be under administration so that the administration can run the SABC with a particular mandate and take it away from “troubles waters into safer shores.”

The protest over the retrenchments will see protesting workers start their picket at the SABC headquarters in Auckland Park because they will convoy to the Union Building to hand deliver their memorandum of demands to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“We anticipate arriving and handing in the memorandum at 2PM. We’ve requested that the government will give us an individual who will be given the memorandum on behalf of the President,” the general-secretary said.

@Chulu_M

The Star

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