SABC strike looms as talks with unions fall apart

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The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has threatened to call a strike with fellow union Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) if the SABC forges ahead with planned retrenchments.

The broadcaster says according to the Labour Relations Act, it is now at liberty to unilaterally implement the contemplated retrenchments after failed talks facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

The SABC says, however it will afford the consulting parties one last chance to make a written submission regarding proposals to the structure or alternatives for its consideration.

CWU’s Nathan Bowes says they will consult with their alliance partners in the African National Congress (ANC).

Reaction to looming SABC retrenchments

Bowes says, “Let us first say that we are disappointed that the SABC has walked out of the consultation on Friday and finally they pulled a plug on us. It was quite clear that we were denied the opportunity to get communication and questions and to ask for further information.”

“There’s quite a number of proposals that we are discussing amongst others is a full-blown strike in alliance with Bemawu. We are planning to question the fairness because this has been unfair,” added Bowes.

Meanwhile, Bemawu threatened to take legal action at the Labour Court against the SABC should it proceed with its retrenchments without further consultation.

Bemawu Spokesperson Hannes du Buisson says, “Should the SABC proceed with its threat to implement the section 189 process unilaterally, Bemawu will not hesitate to bring an urgent application to stop the SABC. The SABC has made certain undertakings and there was an agreement that was done under the auspices of the CCMA and by law, they’re required to adhere to and honour that agreement.”

The SABC has been in consultation with workers’ representatives over the past four months over its plans to retrench around 600 full-time employees. This is part of its restructuring aimed at making the organisation financially sustainable.

SABC now at liberty to implement contemplated retrenchments