Unions worried as SABC announces completion of retrenchment process

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has called labour unions, the Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) into a meeting on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the completion of the corporation’s retrenchment process.

The CWU says it believes the shedding of more than 600 jobs at the public broadcaster will cripple the SABC’s efforts to fulfil its public service mandate to millions of South Africans.

SABC workers face uncertain future after receiving notices of retrenchment:

The public broadcaster issued a notice to its employees on Tuesday morning, saying the transition into the new structure will begin from 1 April.

CWU’s Aubrey Tshabalala says the SABC was never transparent on the matter.

“SABC was never transparent on this matter. In February, they said only 303 workers are going to lose their jobs, but today, we hear about over 600 workers. That number could easily double because we believe the process has not stopped.

Government has handed SABC to private hands who are basically going to cripple the SOEs. Content will now be outsourced. We don’t think we should give up on this fight because once we do so, we will basically allow SABC to completely collapse,” he says.

Quality of work compromised

Bemawu says with 621 having left the SABC during the Section 189 retrenchment process, the quality of work being rendered by the public broadcaster will be compromised.

Bemawu President, Hannes du Buisson, says some positions have still not been advertised and staff have been re-hired on much lower salaries.

He says the process has left remaining employees with an increased workload, which will compromise the standard of broadcasting.

“We already have confirmation that the SABC has released people on the severance package and they are rehiring those people on a freelance basis. We know there are number of positions that have not been advertised. That will compromise quality at the SABC. The SABC will lose people. At this point in time, people are desperate, but once employees realise that they are earning far less with an increased work load, they will leave.”

Labour unions Bemawu and CWU weigh in on SABC retrenchments:

Restoring staff morale

Labour consultant, Tony Healy, says the SABC will have to work hard to restore morale among staff members who have managed to keep their jobs at the public broadcaster, following the Section 189 process.

Healy says many South African companies have resorted to retrenchments over the last 18 months.

“The SABC, like any other company that has gone through retrenchments, is going to experience moral issues and a sense of job insecurity for the employees that remain behind.

The SABC has become yet another statistic when it comes to large scale retrenchments. SABC management will have to do whatever it can to restore morale and ensure that a sense of job security for the remaining employees.”

SABC management refused to be interviewed and says that they’ve communicated with staff through internal communication channels.