Bemawu to meet lawyers on way forward on planned retrenchments at SABC

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Labour union Bemawu says it will meet with its legal team on Friday afternoon to map out the way forward on the planned retrenchments at the SABC.

The Communications Workers Union (CWU) is threatening legal action of its own. This week the SABC announced that it is pushing ahead with the staff cuts, wanting to complete the process by the end of the year.

The public broadcaster plans to retrench around 400 permanent employees.

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 to go ahead with retrenchments

SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe says they’ve exhausted all avenues and that reducing the headcount 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.