SABC management says it will wait for direction from the board after it halted the retrenchment processes for seven days at the public broadcaster last week. There has been a public outcry from all sectors and employees belonging to Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) have embarked on a strike.

Meanwhile, SABC management is expected this morning to meet with representatives of CWU and the Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) to discuss the alternatives to retrenchments.

The public broadcaster has requested to urgently meet with the unions in the hope of avoiding a threatened blackout scheduled to start this morning. The public broadcaster started the retrenchment of about 400 staff last week.

Letters were issued to staff informing them that their positions are either redundant or that they are considered surplus and have to reapply for their jobs. The CWU is demanding among others that the current board be dissolved and for the SABC to be placed under administration.

SABC human resources head, Dr Mojaki Mosia says: “The board has announced that they are putting the Section 189 on suspension for a period of seven days. That simply means we will wait as management for a directive from the board on what should be the next step. Management is working as per the resolution and the direction of the board.”

SABC to meet unions:

SABC GCEO attempts to address protesting workers

On Friday, SABC Chief Executive Madoda Mxakwe tried to address striking Communication Workers Union (CWU) members outside the headquarters of the public broadcaster after receiving a memorandum against retrenchments. However, he was unable to speak above the noise of the crowd.

He said SABC management would respond to the demands next week.

CWU members have held 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 and in the early hours of Friday. The board issued a statement announcing that they’ve suspended the Section 189 retrenchment process for seven days to allow for further consultation.

Mxakwe says the SABC board will study the memorandum and then management will 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.”

Political support

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe as well as a representative of the party’s Youth League also addressed the striking workers outside the SABC in Auckland Park, Johannesburg.

The League said it could not stand by and watch as SABC management and the board compromised indigenous languages in the name of restructuring. The League’s Tlangi Mogale says there have to be other ways of turning the SABC around.

The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government has added its voice on the looming retrenchments at the SABC and the South African Qualifications Authority.

KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala says job cuts at the SABC will not only add to the numbers of unemployed, but it will compromise the public broadcaster’s mandate of reaching the poorest of the poor some of who are in deep rural areas.

“The media reported widely on imminent retrenchment in the country in particular in some of the state-owned entities. This includes the SABC as well as the South African Qualifications Authority. We have heard the cry and pain of workers especially those who are employed by the SABC and in various entities. For a long time, the media industry has been shedding jobs and this is now frustrating coming to workers even at the level of the SABC.”