Unions call for SABC employees to down tools on Friday

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Communications Workers Union (CWU) are calling for SABC employees to down tools on Friday ahead of the pickets outside the Labour Court and the lunchtime pickets.

Another union Bemawu plans to bring an urgent appeal to the Labour Court on Friday to have the retrenchment process terminated.

SABC management plans to retrench as many as 400 permanent staff as part of its restructuring process.

Last week the public broadcaster suspended the Section 189 process for a week inviting stakeholders back to the negotiation tables amidst threats of a blackout on its channels. This week it suspended it again to a further 30 days.

But unions and workers say they will not be satisfied until the entire process is scraped.

Employees, unions and political parties are heading to the Labour Court on Friday in support of Bemawu’s urgent appeal.

Bemawu says it has suggested that the SABC enter into a mediation process with all parties in order to resolve an impasse on the retrenchment process at the public broadcaster.

However, the SABC says Section 189 notices issued so far to staff are still in effect but that the date of implementation has now moved to the end of January.

Bemawu’s president Hannes Du Buisson says they will continue with their application to the Labour Court to interdict the retrenchment process.

“Everyone that was on the side of employees had an issue with the fact that the SABC was not prepared to withdraw the termination letter and redundancy letters and that is where the parties have kind of deadlocked on. It was our view that if the SABC wants to enter into bona fide consensus-seeking consultation process, then those letters should be completely removed and the SABC can then reissue them at a later stage. We have suggested to the SABC that maybe we should get a mediator in to try and resolve this.”

Protests outside court 

The Communications Workers Union provincial chairperson Frans Ledwaba says “The reason we are meeting there is to hear the outcome of the court by Friday.”

“Tomorrow (Friday) it will be a big event. All comrades, even those who are working – we are not working. Tomorrow no one must report at work.”

More support for workers  

The labour federation Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Federation of Trade Unions has also reiterated its support for SABC employees in their fight against retrenchments.

SAFTU Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi says, “We will hold demonstrations at Barloworld, Arclelormittal, SABC and all companies that are retrenching workers, including those that haven’t paid the UIF.”

Similar scenes from last week Friday’s pickets are expected to play out again this Friday.

Cosatu General Secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali says, “The fact that very little has been done to fix the issues raised by the Auditor General and that some of these institutions like SABC are pushing for retrenchments is offensive and scandalous. The government needs to work with labour and business to develop clear road maps to take these SEOs out of ICU, reposition them to adjust to the changes taking place in their sectors and enable them to get back on a sustainable trajectory.”

Cosatu and CWU brief media on Friday:

‘Retrenchments will disempower women’

Non-governmental organisation Abafazi Phambili added their voice to the worker’s demands during Friday afternoon’s pickets.

Noticeably, the women of SABC have been at the forefront of the fight. They remain determined.

SABC Foreign News Editor Sophie Mokoena says, “You saw us as women lying down there crying. You saw us continuing to lead the picket lines. It is good sometimes that as women we must take a lead because we can’t always complain that we are not availing ourselves for leadership or any fight that must be taken.”

Non-governmental organisation Abafazi Phambili says proposed retrenchments will disempower women.

Sis’ Mantao explains: “We don’t believe that when the management has failed to execute their mandate to drive the strategy, they use their employees as a scapegoat. They are creating inequality. We, as Abafazi Phambili, say we can’t just sit down and watch omen who are disempowered while we are fighting for women. Their mandate is to educate us, it is a democratic state organ, you cannot retrench at a state organ.”