South Africa: Impending Strike At The SABC – As Public Broadcaster Issues Retrenchment Letters
The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has officially begun its retrenchment process, issuing redundancy and surplus letters to all the affected staff.
The public broadcaster act has led to worker’s representation, taking up action to reverse this. The Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) met up its sister union, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) on Tuesday afternoon to deliberate a way forward and a possible joint strike to stop the retrenchment of more than 300 permanent workers.
The two unions came to a unanimous decision to resume strike action. CWU says it will serve the PBS with a notice to continue strike action on Thursday and action will be initiated within the next seven days.
CWU General Secretary, Aubrey Tshabalala has said that “the process has not transparent and will plunge the SABC in a deeper crisis” he also stressed that the job as unions now is not just to save employment for its members but also keep the SABC as a whole.
The public broadcaster temporarily halted the section 189 process. It resumed the process on the first week of January 2021. The SABC, which is expected to retrench over 300 of its employees, says this process is needed to reduce the wage bill and make the broadcaster financially sustainable.
According to Hannes du Buisson - a spokesperson from Bemawu - the union hope a strike will not be necessary. He said “We do not want to destabilise the SABC further. But if we’re not being listened to by the SABC, that will be now the quickest and surest way to deal with the SABC.” In December 2020, the union lost its bid to compel the SABC to retract retrenchment letters issued as part of its restructuring process.