Some of the SABC’s platforms could be temporarily shut down as part of a bid by employees – to halt impending retrenchments. Workers affiliated with the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) at the SABC have threatened to cause a four hour blackout on its platforms between 11:00 and 14:00 on Friday, 22 January 2021.

This essentially mean there could be dead air, either on its television or radio platforms, a move which could lead to loss of much-needed advertiser revenue for the SABC.

The CWU has not been clear as to what their plan entails.

“There will be tools down inside which will lead to a blackout. They can play old recordings, if they do that. There will be no fresh news, no fresh content…That is what we want to achieve today and we are very happy with the support that we have been getting” the union’s Aubrey Tshabalala said in an interview with eNCA.

Tshabalala said their go-slow had started on Wednesday and that they were happy with the progress. He however added that there had been “threats” and “misleading statements” made by the SABC.

There’ll be no blackout – SABC

Meanwhile the SABC has said there are contingency plans in place. It has also said it would do all it can to prevent the blackout.

“About the go-slow as well, there’s been no impact on business. In terms of a threat of a blackout, firstly we’re an essential service, so I don’t know how they can threaten a blackout, but be that as it may, we have mitigating ways for that as well, to prevent that from happening, so we’ll be implementing that,” the broadcaster’s Chief Operations Officer, Ian Plaatjies is quoted as saying.

The SABC is currently in the process of shedding more than 300 staffers. SABC-affiliated unions marched to the Union Buildings on Wednesday, 20 January 2021, and handed over a memorandum of demands to the presidency.

They want President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene. They are calling for the SABC board to be dissolved and for retrenchments to be halted.

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.

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Presh JM Reporter

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