Unions force SABC to halt axe on jobs

Hundreds of freelancers are set to be heavily affected by cash problems at the public broadcaster.
Hundreds of freelancers are set to be heavily affected by cash problems at the public broadcaster.
Image: Kabelo Mokoena

Hundreds of workers at the SABC will breathe a sigh of relief after the looming job cuts were temporarily muted.

This emerged after a meeting between the public broadcaster and labour unions representing the workers.

The meeting was held at Auckland Park on Friday to discuss how the SABC would go about axing some of its 4000-strong workforce.

Communication Workers Union (CWU) general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala said the meeting was a "joke" and had to be collapsed because the SABC had no knowledge on how many jobs would be cut.

"The SABC was not prepared and the meeting did not correspond with the invitation. They are in the dark and assume that retrenching people is the only solution," he said.

Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) reiterated CWU's position that the SABC had no clue how many jobs it was cutting and what plans were being implemented to avoid cuts.

The spokesperson for Bemawu, Hannes du Buisson, said the notice for retrenchments was withdrawn and the SABC promised to release a new notice in a few days.

Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said: "We are not impressed because there hasn't been any proof that the corporation has implemented any cost-cutting measures.

"If the board does not know how to save the ship from sinking, they must step aside."

In a statement released yesterday following Friday's meeting with the unions, the SABC confirmed that it has temporarily withdrawn the notice for retrenchments.

"The SABC management met with organised labour on Friday... to initiate the joint consensus-seeking process in terms of section 189 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA).

"Following this joint consensus-seeking meeting, it was agreed that the LRA's section 189 notice will be put in abeyance until further details, as requested by organised labour, are made available.

"This was agreed to in order to take the joint consensus-seeking process forward. This was also to ensure that the parties work together in finding an amicable solution in an attempt to avoid and/or minimise any possible retrenchments as envisaged in terms of section 189 of the LRA.

"The SABC confirms that the section 189 process is still under way and will comply with all the legal requirements in consulting all stakeholders, as the parties continue to seek consensus on possible means to avert retrenchments. The parties have agreed to the appointment of a CCMA facilitator to lead this process, and will meet again in due course to further engage in meaningful consultations," the SABC said.

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