Trade Union Bemawu says the issuing of what it calls “letters of termination” by the SABC to employees before consultations are concluded is illegal and the matter is to be ventilated in the Labour Court.

The SABC said last week that employees whose posts were redundant would be issued letters by Wednesday this week. Bemawu is applying to the court to interdict retrenchments at the public broadcaster.

Bemawu’s Hannes du Buisson on SABC retrenchments:

The SABC plans to retrench as many as 400 workers.

Bemawu President Hannes Du Buisson says the SABC doesn’t seem to understand the Section-189 process and that before retrenchment letters can be issued the employer must first give the employee a chance to apply for available positions within the company.

He adds that they expect the matter to be heard in court either later this week or early next week.

“We are busy filing supplementary affidavits we are going to ask the court to order the SABC to withdraw those dismissal letters in terms of Section 189. There is a duty on the employer to find alternative employment before they can open up so how do you reduce your headcount if you allow other people in the organisation not affected by Section 189 to apply for vacant positions. So clearly the SABC does not understand the process.”

Meanwhile, the SABC has rejected the allegations by Bemawu that it is engaging in illegal practices with regards to the retrenchment process.

SABC Chief Operations Officer Ian Plaatjies on the lunchtime pickets at the organisation:

 

Plaatjies says letters of termination have not been issued but rather letters informing employees that they form part of the retrenchment process and that they can apply for available positions within the company.

He says they will challenge Bemawu’s court application to interdict the process.

“We obviously haven’t received any papers and should we receive yes we will challenge it. We believe that we have concluded this process fairly and in good faith, everything we did was according to the law. There are 170 positions that are available and those positions are ring-fenced for internal and so the affected people will get the first opportunity of applying for those positions. The letters they have received were to inform that they are affected, they might opt to exit or they might opt to contest some of the positions.”

CWU threatens full-blown strike at the SABC

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) says it will soon embark on a full-blown strike against the SABC‘s restructuring process, which could see as many as 400 full-time employees lose their jobs.

A group of workers embarked on a lunch-hour picket at the public broadcaster’s headquarters in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, to protest against the restructuring process.

They were joined by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) members as well as South African Federation of Trade Unions'(Saftu) Zwelinzima Vavi.

Addressing the gathering, CWU General Secretary Aubrey Tshabalala said labour unions are currently engaged in two processes at the SABC.

“One is we have to interdict. That’s what comrades at Bemawu will do. CWU will announce once it gets a certificate to embark on a fully-fledged strike. We’re going to announce sometime this week, and we’re going to make a call to all SABC workers, affected or not affected, let us make sure that there’s a blackout at the SABC. But this is the beginning of protests, marches, not only here, but across the nation.”