Mass retrenchments at the SABC: up to a third of staff to go - TechCentral

Mass retrenchments at the SABC: up to a third of staff to go

The SABC is set to retrench almost a third of its workforce. The public broadcaster set out restructuring plans on Monday evening in which it said as many as 981 of its approximately 3 400 permanent employees may be let go.

At the same time, it will terminate the services of half of its 2 400 freelancers.

It wants the consultation process concluded by 31 January 2019, with retrenchments to take effect on 1 February 2019, and has proposed paying severance pay of one week’s salary per completed year of service in accordance with labour legislation.

In a letter to staff seen by TechCentral, group CEO Madoda Mxakwe, said all employees at all levels in the SABC will likely be affected by the retrenchments. These include group services, provincial operations, commercial enterprises, media technology and infrastructure, news, radio, sport, and television.

“At this stage, and should retrenchments be necessary, it is envisaged that 981 employees may possibly be retrenched as a result of the restructuring, across all the aforesaid business units and operations of the SABC,” Mxakwe said.

He said the SABC’s “dire” financial situation means the broadcaster is not sustainable without “drastic measures” being taken. He added that “irregular and unlawful” operational decisions made by former senior executives have compounded the situation and “need to be remedied”. Though Mxakwe didn’t name him, this is a clear reference to decisions taken by the fired former chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

“…Under the auspices of the erstwhile management of the SABC, there have been many instances of unlawful and irregular promotions and increases afforded to employees, resulting in an inflated remuneration cost and the payment of salaries to employees that are not commensurate to the actual positions occupied by employees. The SABC is also overstaffed, considering its actual operational needs,” he said.

‘Drastically reduce costs’

“…It is needed to drastically reduce operating costs in the SABC, and with it the (elimination) of a number of positions… It is also needed to re-evaluate the entire organisational structure in the SABC, so as to determine the proper remuneration and duties and responsibilities associated with all remaining positions.”

The SABC will consult fully with employees and labour unions before reaching any final decisions, Mxakwe said. “The SABC … has a preliminary view, and any final decision will only be made after due and proper process has been exhausted.”

The broadcaster will try to ensure it retains the best skills through the process. It has proposed a method of selection based on an objective assessment of the skills, experience, expertise and qualifications of employees.

Under the proposed restructuring and retrenchment plan, the SABC will save about R440-million, Mxakwe said.  — © 2018 NewsCentral Media

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