SABC, unions, stakeholders engage in retrenchment debate before Parly’s Communications Committee

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Democratic Alliance Communications Committee MP, Phumzile van Damme, has called on the SABC, unions and other stakeholders to work together and engage in meaningful discussions.

This after the SABC notified employees that, according to the Labour Relations Act, it was now at liberty to unilaterally implement contemplated retrenchments, following failed talks facilitated by CCMA.

As many as 600 full-time staff could be retrenched.

Labour Union, Bemawu, has threatened legal action should the SABC go ahead with retrenchments.

However, the SABC says it will afford consulting parties a chance to make a written submission regarding proposals over the organizational structure or alternatives.

Van Damme was speaking after presentations were made to Parliament’s Communications Committee.

“I think Bemawu at the last meeting said they understand that there needs to be cost cuts, but the manner in which the engagement has happened was not proper, and the SABC says it has been proper. All I am saying is a plea for you guys to sit down, find common ground and talk. This constant animosity and fighting is not helping anyone and that appeals to both sides.”

SABC Board and management appear before parliament:

ANC Member of Parliament, Princess Faku, says she does not believe there is a need for the SABC to effect retrenchments until proper engagements are completed.

Faku was speaking after presentations were made to Parliament’s Communications Committee.

“On the issue of dismissal of people at this stage, what I would request is that the department get us a detailed report of the 11 people that were dismissed. We need to know why were they dismissed? I think, as the committee, we agree that retrenchments must never be on the books at this moment and I am glad that the deputy minister can confirm that the SABC has not yet engaged on the issue of retrenchments. I think we agree that at this stage there is no need for retrenchments until the proper engagements are done.”

The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) has accused SABC management of not doing enough to ensure the public broadcaster has a steady income stream.

CWU General Secretary, Aubrey Tshabalala, argued, “When you compare product by product, you have to look at the customer base. The SABC is no match for anyone and the SABC top ten radio stations had occupied the platform. So, you must ask yourself, what is the problem? The problem is the weak managing department they have. They cannot go out like smaller private entities like they claim to be contesting with. That is what the SABC has to look around and make sure they get as much as possible in line with the advertisement stream. They are not doing that. They are sitting and looking up to government to put the money into the pockets that are bottomless.”

SABC employees have accused the public broadcaster of placing a gag on the newsroom over the planned retrenchment process. In a presentation to parliament’s Communications Committee, the Editorial Forum for News has disputed the SABC‘s claim that news has a bloated staff complement.

SABC National Radio Bulletins Editor Zolisa Sigabi told members that there are serious shortages of staff in the SABC‘s News division because of positions that have not been filled for years.

“We come before you, chair and honorable members, as a broken, depleted and a demoralized newsroom where fear and anxiety rome the corridors of our buildings. We cannot speak out and tell of the challenges we are facing as staff of their SABC as a gag order was imposed on stuff as soon as they were Section 1 is 9 process took off.”

SABC Board and management appear before parliament (FULL VIDEO):