Staffers affected by the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) retrenchment proceedings can breathe a sigh of relief for now. The public broadcaster has announced the process has been halted by seven days, following a late night meeting with board members on Thursday, 19 November 2020.

In a statement, the SABC said this was to further engage and explore options in an effort to ensure the financial sustainability of the public broadcaster.

“The SABC is committed to meaningfully engage with all of its stakeholders as it continues to make the Corporation financially sustainable in order to fulfill its public mandate”

Meanwhile employees are set to picket once more on Friday, 20 November 2020, despite the development.

Average SABC staffer paid R791 000 per annum

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.

The public broadcaster was set to retrench 400 employees, as it navigates its financial crisis – just like other state-owned entities struggling to stay afloat. The SABC’s news division was brought to a standstill on Tuesday, 17 November 2020. Outraged employees confronted management on the retrenchments, and said they were not properly consulted.

The SABC board is divided over the retrenchments.

“Some on the board do not agree with the Section 189 process. We feel there must be better consultation and we feel that Section 189 takes the SABC backwards instead of forwards,” eputy board chairperson Mamodupi Mohlala-Mulaudzi said to IOL.

“Some on the board have been pushing this issue of Section 189 very vigorously, but some of us feel that the Section 189 process will have a detrimental effect on the turnaround strategy of the SABC,” she said.

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. 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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