Labour analyst, Bukani Mngoma, says the SABC could withdraw the letters of redundancy and surplus they have issued to employees to appease the unions. But Mngoma says it does not mean that the SABC will not retrench if they are determined to cut jobs.
Labour unions have demanded that the letters sent to some of the 400 permanent staff the SABC wants to retrench, be withdrawn before meaningful talks on the restructuring process can resume.
Management on Tuesday announced that the retrenchment process has been suspended for a further 30 days, until the end of next month.
Bemawu continues with legal quest to halt Section 189:
The SABC management has this week been engaging unions and the government after announcing a further 30-day suspension of the Section 189 retrenchment process.
However, labour unions have demanded the immediate withdrawal of redundancy letters that have already been issued.
The unions say this condition must be met before they can discuss other issues. Labour analyst, Bukani Mngoma, says that even if the SABC withdraws the letters, it won’t make a difference in the end.
“The biggest question for me is what is SABC’s end-game? Is the intention to eventually retrench, because if that’s what they eventually want, have they rationalised retrenchments, have they made a business case for retrenchments because? If they’ve done so, it doesn’t matter what the unions say, because even if the matter were to go to court, they’d be able to say we’ve done everything that we were supposed to do.”
SABC refuses to withdraw redundancy letters
The SABC management remains adamant that the letters will not be withdrawn. The unions say that this is evidence that the SABC is not sincere and will adversely affect the consultations that are set to take place until the end of the month.
Labour expert, Osborn Molatudi, says the SABC is within their rights to refuse the withdrawal of the letters.
“Remember, SABC’s position is that we do have a valid reason why we’re embarking on this process. In other words, the existence of valid operational requirements is genuine. Therefore we’re not in a position to withdraw retrenchment letters altogether completely. But we’re saying, we’re looking at other avenues that will assist us from retrenching a significant number of employees, or where suggestions can be given during that process. And one may imagine they’re saying that if all that fails, then the process continues and we don’t have to start afresh altogether. I’d imagine that’s the position the SABC is taking and they’re entitled to do so in my view.”
Despite what is happening, the SABC says it cares about its staff:
SABC employees, dressed in black, again staged lunch-hour pickets at the public broadcaster’s offices throughout the country. They have rejected the SABC board’s decision to extend the retrenchment process and want it to be abolished.
Several political parties, trade unions, and civil society groups have joined the workers in their protest, at the SABC’s headquarters in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Azapo’s Vuyisile Wauchope called on the board and management to take salary cuts.
“We say as Azapo, the huge salaries that are being received by SABC board, are received by the executive management of the SABC, they must be cut to accommodate the salaries of the workers at SABC.”
Employees say no one should lose their job:
Citizens’ opinions on the retrenchments
This is what some people on the streets of Johannesburg had to say about the looming retrenchments.
“What is happening at SABC is heart-breaking. Nobody deserves to lose their job, stop this looting, that is happening there at SABC.”
Another person says: ” These retrenchments if you look at them, they’re not going to be a solution. This is just a stop-gap measure and lazy thinking by the current board of the SABC.”
Employees in KwaZulu-Natal say they are unable to fully perform their duties with the retrenchment letters still hanging over their heads.
Employees believe that the new structure the SABC will implement will not only affect workers but also listeners in rural areas. Some employees say despite the 30 days suspension, for them receiving a retrenchment letter means they are already dismissed.
“It’s horrible and there are so many questions in your head but at least you get a list of dates and to some extent, you make your peace with it. And then because someone didn’t do their job properly the dates are moved. KwaZulu-Natal is a very big province. I feel that this new structure will not work in this province and it’s going to deprive people, especially in the deep rural areas the right and an opportunity to voice their concerns. There’s a lot of anxiety affecting so many of us and I’m sure they can feel and see that production is not the same. To me, it means that I’m fully dismissed.”
In Free State, political party members, student organisations and locals have come out in their numbers to support SABC workers who face possible retrenchment in the province.
The EFF and the ANC buried their hatchet and came out to express their dissatisfaction about possible job cuts at the public broadcaster.
Workers union, CWU is demanding that the SABC board be disbanded. The union’s Aubrey Tshabalala says, “We are firstly saying they must withdraw completely the notices. They must take away the Retrenchment process let’s deal with the structure. It will inform us what is that we need to do. We don’t find any reason for Retrenchment why are they retrenching Channel Africa because they are claiming they are cutting cost on salaries channel Africa is not paid by them it is paid by the Department of Communications.”
Talks between the unions and SABC management are set for Friday.
Minister of Communications & Digital Technologies, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams speaks to Morning Live:
Part 2 of the interview with Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams: