The Communications Workers Union (CWU) says reports that the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) plans to cut a third of its staff are an effort to destroy the Public Broadcaster.

CWU Secretary-General Aubrey Tshabalala says the union is continuing to interact with the SABC and all stakeholders. He says there is no indication of any possible retrenchments at the SABC for now.

“ There’s concerted efforts to talk bad about the SABC to reduce it to an institution that will never work so that those who stand to gain, particularly in the private sector, can start now to buy some assets at the SABC and improve their lifelines. I’d be very happy to see the journalists or editors that have written this story. What has been read at Parliament, what we have interacted with the minister, what we are discussing with the executive management including the meeting that is coming on Wednesday, has no indication of any reduction of staff.”

The CWU emphasized that in their meeting with the SABC and the Communications Minister, they will further give input on a turnaround strategy for the Public Broadcaster.

National Treasury rejected the SABC’s initial turnaround strategy.  The Pubic Broadcaster is now working on a new plan with the support of Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.

The CWU’s  Tshabalala says the current funding model for the SABC is not effective.

“ This coming week on Wednesday we are going to meet at what we call a turn around strategy workshop where we as labour, we wanted to make significant inputs. Amongst those is job retention but also create jobs. We look at the SABC not as a platform to be a champion of retrenchment but to be a platform of creating quality sustainable jobs. The funding model of the SABC is not working. We need to look at new ways.”

The SABC earlier dismissed the claims made by a Sunday newspaper that it plans to retrench a third of its staff and close five provincial offices. The SABC has assured its staff and the public that there are no plans to retrench employees at the Public Broadcaster. The SABC says the corporation announced earlier this year that it had aborted the process of implementing Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act which would have facilitated the retrenchment of  981 permanent employees and the non-renewal of the contracts of 1 200 freelancers.

Meanwhile, the Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers’ Union (BEMAWU) at the SABC has vowed to fight any plans by the Public Broadcaster to cut staff. The president of the union Hannes du Buisson says the SABC must take the staff in its confidence regarding what the newspaper article has revealed.

“We will be prepared to protect jobs at the SABC. We believe there are plans, the SABC can turn around without losing any staff if it had to improve its revenue and that is currently not happening and that is of course what we want to see. There needs to be assurances from the SABC that people will not lose their jobs. Of course, the SABC cannot continue plans outside section 189. This, in particular, is going to affect employees’ terms and conditions of employment.”