SABC unions protest against looming job losses

Protest action at SABC over retrenchments.
Protest action at SABC over retrenchments.
Image: Waldo Swiegers

SABC unions are jointly waging war against the looming retrenchment of more than 2000 employees, ahead of next week's meeting with management.

The Broadcasting Electronic Media and Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) and Communication Workers Union (CWU) have asked their members to avail themselves for lunch-time demonstrations today and to oppose the retrenchments.

The protest coincides with the start of a process at the SABC that will see 981 permanent employees and 1200 freelancers losing their jobs due to the public broadcaster being technically insolvent, as it is unable to meet its monthly financial obligations.

SABC spokesperson Neo Momodu said today's lunch-hour protests were not a legal and protected protest action.

"It must also be noted that this action may forestall the section 189 consultation process scheduled for the 13th of November 2018, where parties will seek to jointly find solutions," she said.

Momodu said the SABC had informed the unions "about the action not being in compliance with the law and thus being unprotected and therefore illegal".

Bemawu's Hannes du Buisson told Sowetan that the lunch-time protest will include a handover of a memorandum to the SABC management.

"It would be a peaceful lunch-time demonstration where we will be making certain demands," Du Buisson said.

He said workers believed that the retrenchments were avoidable and that the SABC could still improve its revenue to rescue itself.

"The SABC doesn't have its ducks in a row. Management is not clued up about what's happening in the business ... SABC is a fiasco right now," he said.

They felt that the retrenchments were not well thought through and were "an emotional reaction to the situation".

The SABC wants to drastically reduce its employee costs, which amounted to R3.1bn last year while revenue dropped dramatically. It has indicated that total revenue recorded for the 2017/2018 financial year amounted to R6.6bn.

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