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The South African national broadcaster has been the centre of heated debates for many years. The SABC sucked up another R2.1bn from government coffers in October, with R1.2bn earmarked as a further bailout for the embattled state-owned entity. With unemployment levels in the country at a 17-year high, the Communication Workers Union says it will force the SABC to scrap its plan to retrench 400 employees. MyBroadband takes a look at the tension between the Communication Workers Union and the struggling SOE. This article is published with permission from MyBroadband– Melani Nathan
Last-ditch attempt to stop SABC job cuts
By Jamie McKane
Speaking to the City Press, Communications Workers Union (CWU) general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala said the state broadcaster would be forced to halt its retrenchment plans or create further conflict with workers.
“Eventually, they will be forced to back off because we are ready to roll up our sleeves and step on to the battlefield should we not come to an agreement by Wednesday,” Tshabalala said.
Following heavy backlash from workers at the state broadcaster, the SABC decided last week to suspend its retrenchment process for seven days as it negotiated with unions.
I am hearing about managers that are earning R2 million plus p.a. at the Sabc…..i doubt that anybody there is worth it ….I guess it just forms part of the anc looting plan and as result i have no symphathy😠
— Chris (@kriswentzel9) November 21, 2020
The board said that suspending the retrenchment process for seven days will facilitate the exploration of other options.
“This will allow all stakeholders to further engage and explore further options in an effort to ensure the financial sustainability of the SABC,” the SABC said.
Read also: Insulate, protect the SABC – media expert
Short of seeking further bailout from the government, however, there are few cost-saving options open to the SABC other than retrenchments.
This point was emphasised by SABC chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini, who said the move was a board-approved resolution and a key part of the public broadcaster’s recovery plan.
Despite this, the CWU’s strike action will continue next week, with Tshabalala advocating for the dissolution of the SABC board and the placing of the broadcaster into business administration.
“We are not going to concentrate on this seven-days’ Christmas party they have invited us to,” he said, calling on all SABC employees to participate in the strike action and impose a blackout at the state broadcaster.
“SABC workers, we are here Monday morning, those who are working on Saturday or Sunday; don’t go to work.”
Blackout and strikes
Prior to the temporary suspension of retrenchments, the CWU had threatened a blackout at the public broadcaster in response to management’s decision.
CWU general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala threatened the public broadcaster with a blackout on Friday, and said a shutdown would continue through the next week if retrenchments went ahead.
This threat remains on the table as the unions and SABC continue negotiations.
Unions also plan to combat the retrenchments in labour court, arguing that the problems at the SABC do not stem from its general staff.
Trade union Solidarity echoed this sentiment, demanding that presenters and other innocent SABC employees be left alone and that the looters and corrupt ones be prosecuted and dismissed.
One feels for the #SABC staff, however, this was long time coming, years of cadre deployment and bailout after bailout, somewhere along the road, the car was gonna run out of gas and stall.🙇♀️ pic.twitter.com/SUm7qb773E
— Sporo Lukhele (@LukheleSporo) November 18, 2020
“With irregular expenditure of more than R5 billion that is still awaiting condonation, or is subject to further investigation, it is reckless and merciless to retrench staff with no further ado, while the corrupt ones get away with murder,” said Solidarity CEO Dirk Hermann.
The union also said that the Public Protector should investigate the failing state broadcaster and determine how taxpayer money has been so recklessly misused.
“Tax money has been used recklessly. The problem must be investigated at its root and the guilty ones must be taken to task or prosecuted,” said Hermann.
Now the SABC journalists understand how it feels to be facing retrenchment
How I wish they were this loud when retrenchments faced other SOEs like SAA, Eskom etc
Now they went to SG Magashule to stop Cyril firing them…
Life nhe 🤔
— SG of Azania (@MlangeniMbuyis2) November 20, 2020
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