The Portfolio Committee on Communications says it will invite the SABC to discuss the consultation process it had with staff regarding the planned restructuring at the public broadcaster.

The committee says in a statement that it is clear from the briefings it received from unions and staff that the public broadcaster’s top management had issued notices of retrenchment before conducting an open and transparent skills audit or consulting with relevant stakeholders.

The committee says the SABC should start the process again, from the beginning. It says that consultations with unions, the CWU and BEMAWU, make it clear that retrenchments should be put on hold to allow engagements with all stakeholders in a transparent manner.

Committee Chair Boyce Maneli says they support government’s position that every effort should be made to save jobs in all sectors of the economy and that retrenchments should be a last resort.

On Wednesday, unions and the SABC Editorial Forum addressed the Parliament’s Communications Committee in a virtual sitting on the public broadcaster’s intention to possibly retrench 600 permanent employees and cancel the contracts of around 1 200 freelancers.

Unions say SABC’s skills audit process fatally flawed:

They raised the concern over the Section 189 process and an alleged lack of transparency around it.

The Forum’s Zolisa Sigabi told the sitting that they requested a copy of the proposed structure in advance “so that they could analyse it and make informed contributions. But our request was declined. To date, we have not officially received that structure as the news staff.”

Trade unions told Parliament that the current process of possible retrenchments at the SABC is premature.

BEMAWU’s Hannes Du Buisson expressed concern that the SABC may retrench people crucial to the operation of the public broadcaster. CWU general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala raised concerns, especially about the skills audit process.

The SABC management was meant to address the Committee on Tuesday but they were turned away.

MPs were unhappy that the executive’s presentation didn’t address some of the issues the committee had previously asked clarity on.

Parliament questions SABC’s turnaround strategy: