Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams will on Tuesday make an announcement on the planned retrenchments at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). This follows the minister’s meeting with Labour Minister, Thulas Nxesi, SABC unions and the broadcaster’s board.

The Communications Workers Union (CWU) says it plans to continue with lunchtime pickets on Tuesday. Meanwhile, labour union, Bemawu, approached the Labour Court to try and stop the retrenchments.

Ndabeni-Abrahams says today’s meeting was very productive.

“We had met earlier on, myself joined by the minister of employment and labour, the CWU, the SABC board and management. We then came to very positive outcomes. Some of them, they need the board to sit and take formally in terms of the decision to be processed. Very positive meeting with great results that we will be detailing tomorrow to say from the Department of Labour and Employment, these are the commitments made in order to make sure that we address the issues faced at SABC.”

Bemawu, representing some workers at the SABC, says it will only stop its court action if the public broadcaster withdraws all retrenchment letters and halts the process entirely. Its president Hannes Du Buisson says they did not attend today’s meeting and are keeping their eye on the courts.

“We hope that it’s good news that the Minister is going to bring us. We hope that the Minister has found alternative plans to deal with the SABC’s problem, the crisis that we’re sitting with currently. Management met with us with the understanding that they will simply come and discuss alternatives with us. We objected to that. We have to discuss this structure first and then have meetings, proper workshops with staff members, in particular, in the newsroom to deal with the issues that staff has with structures. If the letters are not going to be withdrawn, we are not going to discuss any alternatives.”

Hannes Du Buisson speaks to Chriselda Lewis:

Striking CWU members have been holding pickets outside SABC offices across the country. The union had given SABC management and the board until 17:00 on Thursday to stop the retrenchments and to retract all letters of redundancy that have already been issued to affected staff.

An urgent SABC board meeting took place late on Thursday into the early hours of Friday. The board, subsequently, issued a statement announcing that they had suspended the Section 189 retrenchment process for seven days to allow for further consultation.

SABC workers enter second week of protest against planned retrenchments:

On Friday, SABC Chief Executive Madoda Mxakwe said the SABC board would study the memorandum and then management would consult with the union. “We have received this memorandum and we will then take it to the board of the SABC and once a response has been submitted, we will then accordingly engage with the leadership of CWU in terms of the outcome and the ANC Youth League.”

Parliament to debate on SABC

Parliament’s spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo, says the Speaker of the National Assembly is considering a request by the IFP for an urgent debate on the state of the public broadcaster.

The party says the current impasse at the SABC over looming retrenchments is a matter of national importance which deserves urgent parliamentary attention.

IFP Chief Whip, Narend Singh, explains, “Although discussions between the board, labour and other parties, we feel, not resolved adequately. SABC is public broadcaster by bringing it on a national stage gives an opportunity for all political parties to give their view on how can be resolved.”