Bemawu takes fight back to court as SABC carries on with retrenchment process

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Trade union Bemawu has instructed its lawyers to reinstate an urgent application to try and compel the SABC to meaningfully consult as required by Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act amid the public broadcaster’s move to continue with retrenchments.

SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe says they’ve exhausted all avenues and that reducing the head count is the only way to make the public broadcaster a financially viable entity.

Mxakwe says the SABC is forging ahead with plans to retrench some staff, with the number affected now possibly as low as 230. The SABC wants to complete the process before the end of the year.

Mxakwe says salaries currently account for 43% of all expenses.

“When you run an organisation, your expenses cannot be higher than your revenue that you attract. And we have done everything that we could. We have tried to reduce expenses significantly by close to about a billion … cost-cutting measures but that’s not sufficient. Unfortunately, painful as it, the organisation has reached a point where we now need to implement Section 189. This is the reality to say, do we continue with this which will potentially result in the collapse of the organisation, or do we deal with the bloated structure that we have.”

Voluntary retrenchment packages

Bemawu said it has proposed to the SABC that it offers voluntary retrenchment packages for up to 450 employees over the age of 55 and avoid retrenchments. The union argues that job losses at the public broadcaster are avoidable.

Bemawu also said the SABC would soon reach its staffing targets through attrition and there was no need to axe staff, especially during these very difficult economic times.

The SABC has been in consultation with workers’ representatives over the past four months.

Bemawu to challenge retrenchments in court next week:

SA’s unemployment stats

Meanwhile, South Africa’s unemployment rate increased by 7.5% points to 30.8% in the third quarter of the year compared with the second quarter. This is the highest unemployment rate recorded since 2008.

According to Statistics South Africa, the results indicate that the number of employed persons increased by 543 000 to 14.7 million in the third quarter of 2020, and the number of unemployed persons increased by 2.2 million to 6.5 million compared to the second quarter of 2020. This resulted in an increase of 2.8 million in the number of people in the labour force.

Stats SA says in spite of the increase in the number of discouraged work-seekers is up by 9.1%, the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement decreased by 2.9 million between the two quarters, resulting in a net decrease of 2.6 million in the not economically active population.

Infographic on unemployment stats: