The Communication Workers Union has threatened a complete blackout at the SABC if management does not give in to its demands.
The union has given the SABC until 5pm this afternoon to retract their letters of redundancy and to stop its retrenchments plans or face industrial action tomorrow. The union has already issued the SABC with a 48-hour notice of a strike. It also called on the board and executive management to step down, saying they’ve failed to turn the organisation around.
CWU General Secretary Aubrey Tshabalala,”Those who say management has decided and they might not reverse the decision, they don’t don’t know the power of workers, you actually don’t know the power of CWU. Makhathini must test us, we’ll make SABC unmanageable. We’ll make sure that they’ll be nothing going on air, the management of the SABC, the board and Parliament will listen to us, whether they like it or not. Hence we’re saying if there’s no positive result, we’ll be looking at the second phase of the strike, we’re not saying that we’re retreating.”
SABC staff picket around the country
Dozens of workers picketed outside the SABC headquarters in Auckland Park. The workers were joined by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the African National Congress (ANC) to protest against looming retrenchments at the public broadcaster.
Fighters have joined SABC demonstration by its workers outside their offices again today.
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) November 19, 2020
Gallery of staff picketing:
At least 400 employees are set to lose their jobs as the SABC seeks to bring down their salary bill which accounts for over 40% of revenue.
“We have taken our own lunch time this is not a strike. We have taken our own time to say no to retrenchments of workers around the country therefore you who are asking where were we, we are not peacetime activists, we cannot be political activists but with our microphones we have created a platform a space for ordinary South Africans even, says veteran broadcaster, Sophie Mokoena.
SABC employees picket outside SABC Auckland Park offices:
Lunch-hour pickets also continued in Pretoria. Phindiwe Sidomela, who has been employed at the SABC for nine years, was served with letter of retrenchment earlier this week.
A disabled Sidomela says it is a painful period.
“They didn’t even give us enough time to look for other jobs. It is not fair. What are we supposed to do? I was working during lockdowns. They told me that the reception can’t be closed. I had to drive all the way from Mabopane to SABC to work. But now they are giving me the retrenchment letter. What must I do? At least if I was sitting at home being safe ke! and didn’t work during lockdown. I was working. Even though I didn’t understand why must I be working while others are not working.”
In the Northern Cape, SABC employees, along with community members, joined in the protests.
Several staffers in the province have already received letters of redundancy, with more expected in the next few days. Lerato Thamahane and her colleagues received praise in previous years for collecting record amounts in TV license fees and now she is among the first to have received her notice.
SABC employees in Limpopo have vowed to participate in tomorrow’s planned strike at the public broadcaster. Workers in Polokwane led by Bemawu and CWU were joined by COSATU and POPCRU in lunchtime pickets while the EFF sent a message of solidarity.
The Deputy Secretary of Communication Workers Union in the province, Amos Mofokeng addressed the workers, “We have given the SABC up until tomorrow, we have been coming here and we have been disciplined about touching that gate but as from tomorrow twelve 0′ clock if they don’t respond to our demands, we will camp here, we will sleep here until they reach our demands.”
BEMAWU plant leader at the SABC in Polokwane, Mulalo Ramarumo alleges that some workers have been intimidated into signing retrenchment letters.
“We are also aware that the same Madoda has called for a rediffusion meeting while we are striking tomorrow, that is another sign, that this management is sly. We are aware that at the same time that management is being used, to serve these letters, and also intimidate people to sign the letters.”
SABC Board Chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini: