Generations actors open letter to fans
We live in a country that is notorious for artists living and dying in a state of poverty, tragically, never managing to earn what is their due, despite being associated with a number of successful projects.
Dear Fans and Generations Viewers:
By now, you would have heard that we, the principal cast of Generations, have made a decision to embark on a strike, and walk off the set of Generations.
First of all, we want to apologise for the inconvenience that this may cause you, as our loyal viewers and fans. Please believe that it is not a decision we came to lightly. However, in light of the SABC and the MMSV Productions continued refusal to engage with us, and our grievances, we felt that reviving the strike was the only course of action available to us.
We wanted to take this opportunity to explain to you exactly what led to this drastic action, and give a full context of the events to date. It is also important for us to state that before we went on strike, we made a point of communicating our unhappiness to MMSV Productions, to no avail.
We live in a country that is notorious for artists living and dying in a state of poverty, tragically, never managing to earn what is their due, despite being associated with a number of successful projects. We have made a decision, as dedicated professionals working on South Africa’s most successful TV show, that we will not be part of this painful statistic. There is no reason, whatsoever, that we should live as ‘struggling actors’ when our show generates an incredible income for the production house and broadcaster.
There are a number of issues that led us to the strike - however, the main ones are:
- The Generations cast, despite the show being the most popular in South Africa, is paid rates well below what is understood to be the industry norm. There has been a great deal of talk from the SABC that we want to be paid extravagant salaries – this is simply not true. Our actor colleagues on the same platform, SABC, are paid at much better rates – so it is possible. For some bizarre reason, however, the powers-that-be choose to keep Generations cast locked into a lower pay grade. This is unjust, and we want it reviewed. We don’t think this is an unreasonable request, considering the audience figures and revenues that the show generates. We just want to be paid fairly, that’s all.
- When we went on strike last October, we proposed a set of rates that we should be paid. In November 2013, MMSV Productions agreed to meet these rates, provided the SABC would also support the proposed normalization of salaries. The SABC responded that they would like some time to review the proposed rates, and would revert in March 2014. In March, the SABC requested an extension to July 2014 to continue examining the proposed rates.
- When the July deadline elapsed, there was no communication from them as to the outcome of their deliberations. When we enquired, we received no response. It became clear to us that their requests for extensions were merely a delaying tactic, and there had never been an intention, as promised, to review the salary scales.
- Bear in mind, that based on the SABC’s November 2013 commitment to review the salaries, the cast honoured the broadcaster’s request that they return to set and continue filming. In the end, we, as the cast, want what is best for the show. It’s a real pity that the SABC and MMSV Productions chose to use this as an opportunity to continue to exploit the cast, with no intention whatsoever to fulfill their promises.
- Royalties and syndication fees. Our contracts stipulate that we, as cast, are due certain fees whenever Generations is sold to an international broadcaster. To date, the show is aired in a number of different countries across the world. However, we, as the cast, have never received our royalties. Syndication fees and royalties are a very important revenue stream in any actor’s life, and it is worrying – and telling - that the SABC continues to deny us what we are owed in this regard. Why is this?
- 3-Year Contracts - the Generations shooting schedule is intense, and leaves little time for us as actors to pursue other professional opportunities. In requesting 3-year contracts, we are not demanding a blanket 3-year guarantee of work. We understand that clauses can be inserted to terminate employment due to issues of non-performance, insubordination and issues of that nature. However, if we are effectively locked into working only for Generations, we feel that it is only reasonable that there be a level of stability that we be afforded in turn.
We have tried repeatedly, to accommodate the SABC and MMSV Productions – whenever they requested an extension to examine the issues, we agreed. When, in November 2013 they asked us to end our original strike while they reviewed our demands, we agreed.
They committed to reverting to us with their responses to our demands – instead, they have issued us with threats to dismiss us if we don’t return to work. We regard this as a breach of trust, and working in completely bad faith with us.
We also consider their insistence on not paying us our fair due as a disturbing flouting of fundamental labour practices, and a perversion of the South Africa we are trying to build – a South Africa where labour is compensated fairly and appropriately. The cast remains open to negotiating and working out a solution, and hopes that the broadcaster and production house respond to this sentiment.
We thank you for your patience with us, and hope you understand our difficulty and stand with us in this troubling time.
With love, and respect:
The Generations Actors Guild
- Anga Makubalo (MJ Dlomo), Atandwa Kani (Samora Lembede), Katlego Danke (Dineo Dlomo), Mandla Gaduka (Selwyn ‘Choppa’ Maithufi), Menzi Ngubane (Sbusiso Dlomo), Nambitha Mpumlwana (Mawande , Patrick Shai (Patrick Tlaole), Slindile Nodangala (Ruby Dikobe), Sophie Ndaba (Queen Ndaba), Seputla Sebogodi (Kenneth Mashaba), Thami Mngqolo (Senzo ) , Thato Molamu (Nicholas Nomvete ) , Winnie Ntshaba (Khetiwe Buthelezi), Zenande Mfenyana (Noluntu Memela), Zikhona Sodlaka (Priska Nomvete) , Zolisa Xaluva (Jason Malinga )