SABC retrenchments: Sanef proposes independent mediation amid strike

Workers were on a go-slow on Friday afternoon in response to looming jobs cuts at the public broadcaster. They are demanding that retrenchments at the state entity be abandoned.

FILE: SABC employees picketing outside their offices on 19 November 2020. The employees of the embattled public broadcaster are protesting against retrenchments that could see hundreds lose their jobs. Picture: Xanderleigh Dookey Makhaza/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - With SABC employees on strike outside the public broadcaster’s headquarters in Auckland Park, the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) on Friday proposed independent mediation to help resolve the impasse with management in the news division.

In a statement, Sanef said it held cordial meetings on Thursday and Friday with SABC editors and executives respectively to find a way forward in the current impasse facing the broadcaster.

“Sanef has proposed a mediated process to both management and editors to try and resolve the impasse, as the instability in the news division at the public broadcaster threatens its ability to deliver on its expansive, but sadly unfunded public mandate,” the forum said.

Workers were on a go-slow on Friday afternoon in response to looming jobs cuts at the broadcaster. They are demanding that retrenchments at the state entity be abandoned.

The SABC issued Section 189 notices to several staff members this week, which sparked outrage.

WATCH: ‘It’s not okay’ - SABC journalist makes tearful appeal against retrenchments

The SABC board announced on Friday morning that the process would be halted for seven days, but workers slammed the move as a public relations exercise.

“This will allow all stakeholders to further engage and explore further options in an effort to ensure the financial sustainability of the SABC,” the board said in a statement.

Sanef said it noted the announcement, saying it was clear that none of the parties disputed the critical need for the SABC to restructure and cut costs.

“A bloated, top-heavy structure is the unfortunate consequence of years of mismanagement, including the payment of above-inflation and irregular increases and bonuses. All parties agree that for the SABC to be saved, costs must be cut.

“In our meeting with editors on Thursday, they indicated that they remain committed to the restructuring of the SABC to ensure its sustainability and ability to continue to deliver on its constitutional mandate,” Sanef said.

However, workers are standing firm on their demand for the SABC to stop retrenchments.

GALLERY: Protect the public mandate! SABC staff picket over retrenchments

Workers protesting outside Radio Park were joined by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) affiliated unions, including the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu).

Earlier, a large group wearing ANC regalia joined the workers.

Notable faces leading the fight against retrenchments included SABC news reporter and anchor, Chriselda Lewis, and Africa editor Sophie Mokoena.

Meanwhile, a large group of police was keeping a close eye on the protest.


At the same time, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and the ANC Youth League handed over their memorandum of demands to the SABC.

They gave the public broadcaster seven days to respond to the demands.

CWU secretary-general Aubrey Tshabalala addressed his members.

“We are saying to the management of the SABC, you know our office [and] emails. If you want to respond to us, you do so by writing to us through a normal process of Section 189,” Tshabalala said.

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