SABC unions pledge to fight to the bitter end

SABC Building
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Worker Unions have pledged to fight to the bitter end in the ongoing retrenchments saga at the SABC. Last week, the public broadcaster announced over 2 000 planned retrenchments.

Unions have planned Black Wednesday and a national picket on Friday in protest of the looming retrenchments.

The ongoing battle between SABC workers and its Management continue over the dreaded retrenchments.

Trade unions Broadcasting Electronic Media And Allied Workers Union (BEMAWU) and the Communications Workers Union (CWU) addressed packed auditoriums in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, on Monday.

Members gathered in hope to have their fears allayed and to establish a way forward. They appeared visibly disappointed in the approach taken by the public broadcaster.

Last week, the Executive members announced the retrenchments of over 900 permanent workers and over 1 000  freelancers. However, CWU General Secretary Aubrey Tshabalala says there was no consultation prior to the announcement.

“We want to be part and parcel of a turn-around strategy in terms of our inputs as workers so that we make sure that SABC going forward is viable, self-sustaining so that, that strategy is endorsed by all parties. You can’t have a turnaround strategy alone and come out of that turnaround strategy and say ‘I’ve consulted with unions.” To be very clear, unions were not consulted.”

The SABC has responded to the claims. The public broadcaster’s Spokesperson, Neo Momodu says the consultation will take place under the CCMA next week Tuesday.

“The consultation process is to be conducted under the auspices of the CCMA and the first consultation process is scheduled for the 13th of November 2018 between the SABC and organised labour. Employees will be consulted as required by Sections 189 and 189(a) of the Labour Relations Act. It is anticipated that the process will take sixty-days to conclude from the date of issue of notice.”

However, BEMAWU president, Hannes du Boisson says the lack of communication from the SABC Board on the impending retrenchments is disrespectful.

“This is how disrespectful this Management is. We, as a trade union, speak on behalf of each and every one of you. They don’t have respect for you because they don’t bother to answer those questions that have been asked.”

BEMAWU has also called for the SABC to be put under business administration. The union says while this process may not guarantee immunity from retrenchments for workers, it can be a solution to avoid them.

“We believe that what will be looked at first is how to stabilise the SABC at this point in time. We will sit around the table with those appointed Management and be properly and sincerely consulted on that process.”

There have also been growing calls for the removal of the Top Three Executive members. The CWU made this call to a cheering crowd, saying the current members do not operate with the best interests of the workers.