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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

Chaos at SABC as staff ‘fired, rehired, fired again’

The SABC has been criticised for turning its restructuring process into chaos – chopping and changing, retrenching, rehiring and firing.

The SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has been criticised for turning its restructuring process into chaos – chopping and changing, retrenching, rehiring and firing.

The broadcaster has been accused by unions of retrenching the wrong employees, giving them packages and then rehiring some and firing others. Many lost their jobs on 31 March when the SABC retrenched 625 employees.

But some were rehired after they were terminated by mistake and others fired after being rehired in error.

ALSO READ: 621 SABC employees set to be retrenched from Thursday

This annoyed the Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) and Communication Workers Union (CWU), who lamented the haphazard manner the SABC implemented the section 189 retrenchments.

The unions complained about the rehiring and then dismissal of employees after they were wrongly identified for restructuring.

CWU general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala called for the reviewing of the SABC restructuring, premised on achieving self-sustainability by generating its own revenue without relying on the state.

“The SABC should be competent and competitive on all platforms in the broadcasting space. But if you cut staff and terminate or reduce their salaries, that does not help,” he said.

According to Bemawu president Hannes du Buisson, the SABC willy-nilly withdrew employment contracts they offered to some employees they retrenched.

One of those was a Bemawu member, Janet Whitton who was retrenched along with her disabled husband.

Shortly after Whitton received her retrenchment letter early this year, she was offered a position as editor: investigations unit, which she did not a apply for.

She accepted the offer on 23 March and began serving in the post, which was a 130 scale manager post but offered to her at a 300 scale. This was far lower than that of a manager although she was managing the unit.

However, the SABC later informed her that her employment offer was being withdrawn and her employment would be terminated on 31 May. She wrote an open letter to the CEO, Madoda Mxakwe, complaining about the action.

“There is no employment letter on the table, Ms Whitton has already accepted the offer and she has rendered services in the same position,” Du Buisson said.

He said the union did not accept the withdrawal of the employment offer as it was now an employment contract.

The union was also challenging the decision to offer Whitton one of two other lower-scale positions without advertising them.

A number of employees who received retrenchment packages were informed their medical aids were being restored and their pension payouts withdrawn as they were the wrong people.

But some staff had already used their packages and were unable to pay back the money. The SABC began deducting money from their salaries. The SABC spokesperson could not be reached for comment.