Congress SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) says it is shocked by the announcement that the SABC is planning to retrench workers.

The SABC has announced that it is contemplating retrenching 981 permanent employees and more than 1200 freelancers may not have their contracts renewed next year.

Cosatu’s first deputy president Mike Shingange says Communications minister, Nomvula Mokonyane and the Portfolio Committee on Communications have assured them that workers will not be retrenched at the SABC.

Shingange reiterated their call for the board to step down if they cannot save the SABC.

“We are expressing shock on the new effort by the board to retrench workers in the SABC, given the fact that two weeks ago when they started the matter there have been engagements with our trade union there, there has been engagement with the minister of communications. It can’t be a resolution to retrench workers in order to save SABC.”

Meanwhile, the National Freedom Party (NFP) MP, Achmed Shaik-Emam, has condemned the way in which the SABC publicly announced its decision on the number of workers to be retrenched.

“I am actually very surprised and I think it is very irresponsible behaviour on those who are discussing this in the public domain without the matter being dealt with internally, because all of us have a role to play to be able to protect the citizens of this country, including the employees of the SABC. So surely we must play a role in all negotiations in terms of the wellbeing of our employees. You are supposed to discuss the matter with all the different role players before you take it to the public domain. As far as we are concerned also from a parliamentary point of view we were not aware that a decision was being taken already to go a retrench a certain amount of people.”

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says a proper independent staff and salary audit is needed before the SABC can contemplate retrenchments.

DA Spokesperson on Communications Phumzile Van Damme says only a proper audit will allow Parliament, the public and the SABC staff to have a sound rationale behind the retrenchments.  Van Damme elaborates:

“Of great concern to us is that this process is being conducted without a proper independent skills audit having being undertake at the public broadcaster so that  it can be seen which skills are needed and which ones are not. The process also appears to be haphazard and illogical. The DA will not allow for the SABC to play Russian Roullete with the SABC staff these are people who have families and bills to play.”