SABC GE of News’ decision to stop issuing retrenchment letters a temporary victory: CWU

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The Communication Workers Union (CWU) says the announcement by SABC Group Executive of News Phathiswa Magopeni that she cannot continue issuing letters of redundancy under the current climate is a temporary victory.

Magopeni made the announcement during a heated meeting between news staff and management at the SABC‘s headquarters in Auckland Park. An urgent meeting was called as some of the 400 staff members affected by the planned retrenchments continued receiving letters. The process of issuing letters was supposed to be concluded by Wednesday.

Magopeni says she is committed to retract letters already received by some workers:

The SABC is yet to confirm whether all the letters of redundancy that have already been issued will be reversed.

CWU General Secretary Aubrey Tshabalala says, “What we heard about the reversal of letters, we’ll say it’s a temporary victory. So, the fight is not over. Phathiswa and them cannot be trusted. We need to be very firm. We need to call for the removal of the Board of SABC. What Phathiswa is saying there about approaching government is something they should have done a long time ago. They’ve been here for years now. They’ve been blaming the previous administration without turning things around.”

CWU says SABC top management can never be trusted:

A number of SABC employees refused to complete their shifts for the day with some saying they will not go on air.

News anchor Chriselda Lewis and some of her colleagues raised their concerns during the meeting.

“You know none of the names of these people who work here. We grew up with these people here. Sis Pat [Phathiswa Magopeni], no. When you came here, this is not what we expected from you. We can’t sleep. It’s headed towards Christmas. You have fired Portia, who the newsroom cannot survive without. It’s not ok, mam. Take your structure, go. Go with it. Give us something that makes sense, sir.”

The Congress of the People (COPE) says they will join SABC workers and labour unions in the fight to stop retrenchments.

In a statement, COPE says Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams must stop making empty promises and playing for the gallery in front of the cameras.

Below is the full statement:

On Monday, a group of SABC employees, led by several editors from the News Division staged a lunch-hour picket at the public broadcaster’s headquarters in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, pleading with management to reconsider its position.

Despite threats of legal action and protests, the SABC is forging ahead with its restructuring, saying the process is aimed at making the organisation financially sustainable.

Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) also joined the SABC workers’ picket, as the editors slammed management, saying their planned changes will compromise the organisation’s public broadcasting mandate.

Workers say they are not happy about the retrenchments as the process of engagement was not transparent, also not justifiable and are calling for management to go back to the discussion table.

While some workers say SABC is violating Section 192 of the constitution, which guarantees public broadcasting for South Africans. They say they cannot have a structure that is more appropriate to a private commercial entity.

Letters of termination

The Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) says the issuing of what it calls “letters of termination” by the SABC to employees before consultations are concluded is illegal and the matter is to be ventilated in the Labour Court.

The SABC said last week that employees whose posts were redundant would be issued letters by Wednesday this week. Bemawu is applying to the court to interdict retrenchments at the public broadcaster.

Bemawu’s Hannes du Buisson on SABC retrenchments:

The SABC has rejected the allegations by Bemawu that it is engaging in illegal practices with regards to the retrenchment process.

 SABC Chief Operations Officer Ian Plaatjies responds to the lunchtime pickets at the organisation:

 EFF’s Hlengiwe Mkhalipi says retrenchments at SABC must be the last resort: