The SABC has announced it has extended the suspension of the Section 189 process, to the end of December 2020, to enable additional consultations. The public broadcaster said the decision followed further engagements with organised labour and other stakeholders.

“During this period, the SABC management and its employees will jointly work with all participating parties, to further review the proposed structures with the intent to ensure that they are optimal and enabling to achieve the public mandate of the SABC,” the SABC said in a statement on Tuesday, 24 November 2020.

The announcement comes just a day after Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and her Labour counterpart Thulas Nxesi met with the SABC board to discuss a way forward.

Retrenchments not suspended, says SABC

The broadcaster had intiated retrenchment proceedings which would see 400 staffers lose their jobs – a move largely attributed to its mounting financial troubles.

The SABC has however said that the move does not mean the retrenchments are off the table.

“The SABC and the participating parties will utilise this time for further mediated sessions with an independent labour expert to explore alternative options to minimising the impact of retrenchments. The issued redundancy letters will also be extended by the same period. The Section 189 process has not been terminated,”

SABC spokesperson Mmoni Seapolelo

Angry employees refused to accept the retrenchments and staged a picket last week demanding management to resign. The staffers say they were not properly consulted and that they were bearing the brunt of widespread corruption that has plagued the SABC.

The cash-strapped broadcaster has been facing serious financial troubles, partly attributed to years of mismanagement, corruption and its salary bill. It was revealed that the SABC spent more than R2.35 billion paying the salaries of 2 979 employees at an average salary of R791 000 per person during the 2019/20 financial year.

In the same period, the broadcaster also recorded a net loss R511 million.

Affected unions and the SABC management held a number of engagements through the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) and failed to reach an agreement on the way forward and avoid job cuts. In another effort to cut costs, the SABC will also be freezing salary increases for three years, reduce sick and leave days and stopping the encashment of leave days.

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Presh JM Reporter

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