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Unions slam SABC over proposed mass retrenchments

The SABC announced on Monday that 981 permanent employees may be let go, while over 1,000 freelancers could be affected.

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

JOHANNESBURG – Unions have criticised the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)' s intention to retrench a large section of its workforce as part of the broadcaster's restructuring strategy.

The SABC announced on Monday that 981 permanent employees may be let go, while over 1,000 freelancers could be affected.

The Communications Workers' Union (CWU) says it does not agree with the company's intention to retrench employees.

The SABC halted the process earlier this month after a meeting with unions where it was agreed that a Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration facilitator would be appointed to deal with the matter.

However, the CWU's Aubrey Tshabalala says that process has not taken place.

“We’re waiting to go to the CCMA and all of a sudden now they release this into the public and we find that as a bizarre approach by the SABC.”

Tshabalala says the broadcaster has not consulted government.

The Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union's (Bemawu) Hannes du Buisson says the SABC is going about this process the wrong way.

“We believe that the SABC has not done proper homework on this issue, the time span that they had to come up with the positions and the number of people has been very short.”

Bemawu says should the SABC fail to follow proper processes in letting go of its employees, it will be left with no choice but to take steps against it.

Du Buisson said: “If the SABC does not follow due process, we will approach the Labour Court to interdict the SABC and compel it to follow due process.”

The public broadcaster has been in a precarious financial position due to years of mismanagement and questionable policies, which have seen advertisers pull out.

The SABC says it will comply with all the legal requirements and inform employees on all developments.

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