The Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) says although it welcomes the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s SABC’s decision not to renew the notice to invoke Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act, it will not relent in its demand for a turnaround strategy.
The public broadcaster’s management made the announcement Thursday afternoon at its headquarters in Auckland Park. It says its decision is in the interest of the SABC, its employees, key stakeholders and the South African public at large.
CWU Spokesperson Aubrey Tshabalala says, “Well, for now, we’ve seen a white flag, a signal of peace. We won’t relax on our laurels. We want to go in and say we want to engage on a turnaround strategy, including all key stakeholders. We mean the government, the SABC itself and labour, so that we avoid the situation in the near future because the danger is that if we may relax now. We might find ourselves in the same problem, ten months down the line.”
Meanwhile, Chairperson of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications, Hlengiwe Mkhize, has welcomed the SABC decision not to renew the notice.
In a statement, she says they note the fact that the SABC is currently over-staffed and that a number of cost-cutting measures have not yielded any results.
Mkhize however, says the board should explore other strategic interventions, including proposals for a new funding model for the SABC.
She has stressed that the SABC should work with the Minister of Communications to come up with a comprehensive plan that will help to recapitalise the public broadcaster’s R3 billion budgetary shortfall.
Late last year, the SABC invoked Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act, triggering a 90-day consultation process with unions. After the board was rendered inquorate, the notice was provisionally suspended. The consultation period expired on Thursday. SABC Group CEO Madoda Mxakwe says they have decided not to renew the notice.
” The reason why I thought I would come and talk to all of you is because as you may recall last month we issued a notice in as far as section 189 and we said at the time we would put this notice abeyance until such time we give a clear direction to all the employees to what needs to happen. So the notice that was issued last year it expires today as far as Section 189 is concerned.”
Labour Union, BEMAWU, has welcomed the decision. The union’s spokesperson, Hannes Du Buisson says, “We are obviously very happy that the SABC has decided to terminate the retrenchment process. We are happy for each and every employee who now has certainty in their life, we are happy for the SABC as an organisation cause we believe that had the SABC proceeded with the retrenchment process that it would have brought the SABC completely on its knees.”
The SABC announced that it would be going ahead with a skills audit. The CEO of SABC, Madoda Mxakwe
“We’re going to look at the functional competencies, what kind in terms of span of control, the layers of management. We’re gonna look at all of those organisational development related issues. We will also look at the structure and say what is the future structure of the SABC, particularly in this era of digitisation. That requires obviously to look at the skills set, how can you reskill, how can you upskill different employees.”
In October, the SABC embarked on the process to retrench a third of its work force as a cost cutting measure.