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'Hlaudi Motsoeneng is a pathetic liar'

16 ‘Generations’ cast members have spoken out about what they call apartheid working conditions.

Fired 'Generations' actors Patrick Shai (Left), Slindile Nodangala (Center) and Menzi Ngubane (Right) addressing the media at a briefing on 26 August 2014 following their dismissal from the television series. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Creative Workers Union of South Africa has labelled the SABC's Hlaudi Motsoeneng as a pathetic liar.

The Union's General Secretary Eugene Mthethwa was speaking at a media briefing yesterday where the 16 fired Generations cast members spoke out for the first time since they were sacked following a week-long strike.

Some broke down while they described what they call apartheid working conditions.

Mthethwa says the actors will only go back to work once their demands are met.

"I will share emails which shows that Hlaudi is a liar, a pathetic liar. He's corrupt. If you want me to show you the corruption, I have evidence."

The sacking of cast members has raised questions about whether actors in South Africa are generally underpaid.

The fired actors spoke in Newtown to provide details about how their fees are broken down using the R55,000 that has been reported as their salary.

They say after a 25 percent freelance fee deduction and medical aid expenses, they are only left with approximately R19,000 for their household and family's expenses.

Researcher and economist Xhanti Payi says actors in Hollywood earn way more.

"It isn't anywhere near what actors in the US earn. The US actors earn much much more and have much better lives and I think this is what the Generations actors are comparing themselves to."

Generations is said to be South Africa's most successful TV programme, but it's actors say the success has not filtered down to its key players.

The fired actors lashed out at Motsoeneng for giving himself pay hikes while artists struggle to make ends meet.

'DISMISSAL IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL'

Veteran actor and playwright John Kani says the unilateral decision by SABC management to fire the actors is unconstitutional.

Kani says the problem about payments and contracts started last October.

"These issues have not been resolved. We should lend support to these actors because SABC, Mnet and eTV are the biggest employers of the acting community in this country therefore they should at some stage act with some responsibility."

Meanwhile, the fired actors say they wish to return to the show.

They have an accepted an invitation from the SABC to sort out their grievances.