Communications Workers Union (CWU) has accused the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) of being disingenuous in its approach to the looming retrenchments at the public broadcaster.

On Wednesday, unions met with the public broadcaster under the auspices of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA).

Unions gave the SABC until Thursday to abandon the Section 189 process or for it to start the process from scratch. The SABC had allegedly made new appointments which would be included in the new structure after retrenchments.

The public broadcaster, however, responded to unions saying this was an error.

The SABC plans to retrench 600 staff and terminate the contracts of more than 1 000 freelancers.

“It’s either deliberately trying to play ignorant of the issues that we’ve raised in yesterday’s meeting. In their response, they’re responding on particular positions that we’ve raised to say these are new positions in the structure and the structure has not been discussed. They just said it was a typo and therefore, they sent a letter to change those titles. Basically, they have done nothing. They are just telling us that they are forging ahead. So, it is our plan now to decide what we need to do,” says CWU General-Secretary, Aubrey Tshabalala.

SABC unions threaten court action over consultation: 

Executive appears before Parliament 

Appearing before Parliament’s Communications Committee a week after issuing the notice, Chief Financial Officer Yolande van Biljon said that the corporation’s salary bill needs to be tackled. Van Biljon has told the committee that the public broadcaster has to do what is necessary, even if it is very painful.

In the video below Biljon gives reasons behind issuing of Section 189: 

Last week, the board and management appeared before the committee where they were sent packing by Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications after being accused of lying and failing to answer questions put before it by lawmakers.

The committee accused the board of lying on issues such as skills audits, consultations with the unions, and other stakeholders.

Other committee members called for Section 189 to be dropped.

In the video below, SABC board and management appear before the Communications Committee: