SABC employees who feel unfairly retrenched can approach CCMA: Labour law expert

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Labour law expert Bukani Mngoma says  SABC employees, who feel they’ve been unfairly retrenched, can approach the CCMA or the courts for relief.

This as unions claim the SABC’s handling of the Section 189 retrenchment process is flawed. The public broadcaster had indicated that it wants to cut just over 300 permanent jobs as part of its restructuring plans. But the unions claim that almost double that number will find themselves without jobs.

Unions on SABC Section 189 process:

Mngoma says that the matter can be taken to the CCMA or Labour Court if internal processes don’t yield results.

“If people are terminated on a basis that they have not been accommodated either through being moved around or applying for new positions that have been created through the implementation of the strategic plan of turn around,  then there’s only one option they have, they can then go to the CCMA, either as individuals or as a collective and claim unfair dismissal. Because at the end of the day the matter will go to CCMA and then the Labour Court.”

Key positions not yet advertised

The Section 189 process at the public broadcaster was meant to be completed at the end of February, but unions say that key positions in the corporation’s new structure have not yet been advertised.

The SABC has been advertising vacancies and has been interviewing candidates.

Bemawu’s Hannes du Buisson, “There are a number of positions, most of them critical positions that have not been advertised and it seems like the SABC has no intention of advertising those positions. Some positions were advertised over the weekend by email. Some positions, the deadline has been set very short for people to apply for those positions. There’s going to be a lot of people being put out in the streets that should have been taken up by the organisation and should have been accommodated. The process is unfair and it is flawed.”

Du Buisson says many more workers will lose their jobs than were initially anticipated. He says they estimate that more than 570 staff members could leave by the end of March, well over the 300 the SABC said it needs to cut.

“We believe that there are over a 1000 people that received letters, not just 300 people. We have preliminary figures of how many people applied for severance packages and also for retirement. It seems at this point in time that the figure by the end of March according to our calculations would be around 570 who would have exited the SABC. That is excluding the plus-minus 80 – 100 positions that the SABC has not advertised.”

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) also feels that the Section 189 process has been flawed.

The union’s Aubrey Tshabalala explains, “There was a process where people were supposed to apply for certain positions and they could not do so because the system at the SABC in terms of applications was not working at the HR level. There are people who were moved from surplus to redundant. That shows you that SABC management is completely not clear of what they are doing. We have 270 people who have applied for voluntary packages, SABC targeted 300 people, we should have forceful retrenchments of 30 people.”

Bemawu and the CWU say they could go back to the Labour Court over what they say are unfair retrenchments.

The SABC management didn’t want to comment now but says they’ll do so later in the week.