SABC orders staff to return to work, claims strike is illegal

Representatives from Bemawu and the CWU were in a meeting with the newly appointed board to discuss the way forward.

SABC staff members on strike in Johannesburg on 2 November 2017. Picture: Mia Lindeque/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) says a wage strike by workers affiliated to the Broadcast, Electronic Media and Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) is illegal and has ordered its staff to return to work.

Representatives from Bemawu and the Communication Workers' Union (CWU) were in a meeting with the newly appointed board to discuss the way forward.

CWU, which represents the largest number of staff, withdrew its strike notice but are taking part in the talks.

The SABC's Kaizer Kganyago says Bemawu didn’t follow the right procedures and the strike is not protected.

“They are supporting the form that was given to the CCMA by the CWU and now the CWU has withdrawn, meaning they have not gone directly to the CCMA.”

At the same time, Bemawu members insist their strike is legal and say they're prepared to fight their case in court.

The public broadcaster has accused the union of failing to follow procedure and has warned staff if they don't return to work they could face disciplinary hearings.

Bemawu’s Hannes du Buisson says question’s around legality are aimed at crippling the strike.

“They can interdict us. The judge will tell us. Then we will find out what the problem is and we’ll rectify them, we'll come again."

Kganyago says it’s too early to say if the public broadcaster will approach the courts to interdict the strike.

“We’re hopeful that we might not have to be at that point.”

The CWU is part of wage negotiations with the hope of securing a 15% hike.