Nica Richards
Deputy online news editor
2 minute read
20 Jan 2021
9:54 am

Morale at an ‘all-time low’ as SABC staff march to Union Buildings

Nica Richards

Many workers who have received Section 189 retrenchment notices 'served the SABC with loyalty for years', and have critical skills, said CWU general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala.

Political parties outside SABC offices in Johannesburg on 19 November 2020. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

Weary South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) employees will make their way to the Union Buildings on Wednesday to hand over a memorandum.

The march will be attended by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and the Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union (Bemawu). 

CWU general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala laid out the main points of concern for employees to The Citizen

The first is “a shift from its public mandate”, related to the “marginalisation of indigenous languages”. The second is the issue of outsourcing “core functions” of the public broadcaster to the private sector at the expense of workers and the public. The third is to “halt the entire turnaround strategy because it has no signs of building SABC capacity to generate revenue and be self-sustainable”.

ALSO READ: Some SABC board members break ranks to oppose retrenchments

Tshabalala also said that the SABC board had “failed in its fiduciary duties to play a role of an oversight on the executive”. 

Workers and unions are also calling for an investigation into all tenders issued by the broadcaster over the last two years, including the recent Telkom deal “that has alleged to have not followed the procurement/tender due process”.

Morale is at an all-time low, Tshabalala said, explaining that many workers who had received Section 189 retrenchment notices had “served the SABC with loyalty for years”, and have critical skills. 

But despite their skill sets, they have been “sidelined”, while the SABC proceeds to employ freelancers, Tshabalala explained. 

Consistent protest action has, however, made “a significant impact”, Tshabalala said.

He said that since the beginning of 2018, the SABC intended to retrench 900 permanent staff and 1200 freelancers. In June last year, the broadcaster pushed for 600 permanent positions to be shed, and in November this decreased to 400.

He said the CWU continued to fight, and that the current figure being eyed by the broadcaster was now at 303. 

“However we are not resting on our laurels, but continue to fight”. 

In addition to the Union Building protest, the CWU has ordered a go-slow and “work-to-rule” mandate for Thursday, as well as a go-slow on Friday until 11am.

From 11am to 2pm, there will be a total blackout at the SABC, after which the mandate stipulates that workers continue to a go-slow. 

This is a developing story. Updates to follow as more information is made available.  

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