Unions affiliated to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) are not going down without a fight. This comes after more than 300 staffers received redundancy and surplus letters.

The Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) has threatened to take to the streets once again if a fair process is not followed, saying this was the only legal and constitutional way to fend off retrenchments at the SABC.

The SABC decided to forge ahead with retrenchments after months of consultations with unions and the CMMA.

 Bemawu and the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) now intend writing to the SABC board requesting an urgent meeting on the Section 189 process. Bemawu’s Hannes Du Buisson said they would strike, should the meeting not go their way.

“The meeting has resolved that should the board refuse to meet with labour at the SABC – that is Bemawu and CWU – then Bemawu members will proceed to participate in the strike that has already been filed by the CWU. We trust this will not be necessary and we will not be forced to resort to such drastic measures,” Du Buisson said.

While the CWU’s Aubrey Tshabalala said while they are in favour of the strike, they would also have to consider the fact that there is a global pandemic, and would not want to put members at risk.

SABC refutes rumours of more retrenchments

Amid the jobs bloodbath at the SABC, the broadcaster has come out guns blazing against claims that it intends closing down non-English radio stations, which would lead to more retrenchments.

“The SABC dealt with similar allegations in November 2020 and would like to reiterate that there is no truth in these allegations. The public broadcaster is fully cognisant that millions of South Africans rely on its radio network as the only and most easily accessible source of public service content. On the contrary, the radio stations’ proposed structures are promoting and supporting the current needs of audiences, such as digital accessibility,” it said.

At the same time, the SABC intends filling vacant posts and wants to complete the Section 189 process by February.

“At this stage, we are confident in terms of the process, a lot can change between now and then, for example, we have 170 vacancies and our planning is based around that, but hypothetically, say if 100 people opt for early retirement there is an additional 100 positions. So, it’s very difficult to say at this stage, but we are on track to meet the timelines,” the broadcaster’s Chief Operating Officer, Ian Plaatjes is quoted as saying.

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Presh JM Reporter

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