The SABC has concluded consultations with staff and labour unions under section 189 of the Labour Relations Act and will now implement sweeping job cuts as part of a board-led plan to turn around the struggling public broadcaster.
It’s understood that as many as 600 jobs could be on the line as the SABC contends with a bloated workforce and a sharp decline in advertising revenue as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown.
In a letter sent to SABC employees on Monday and seen by TechCentral, human resources head Mojaki Mosia said the CCMA-facilated sessions were concluded on Friday, meaning the broadcaster is “now at liberty to unilaterally implement the contemplated redundancies/retrenchments”.
This development comes a day before an SABC delegation is due to brief parliament on the restructuring and turnaround plan (including the looming retrenchments), along with several other key issues affecting the corporation.
“We fully appreciate that the delay in concluding the section 189 process is causing anxiety and uncertainty to all SABC employees and stakeholders. However, we had to ensure that we conduct this process in full compliance with the Labour Relations Act and in the interest of the SABC and its employees,” Mosia said in his letter to employees.
He said the SABC exceeded the requirements of the act that there be four consultation sessions in 60 days. The broadcaster completed 16 sessions in 120 days: nine bilateral sessions between the consulting parties and the SABC management and seven CCMA-facilitated sessions.
“On 6 October 2020, during the fifth CCMA-facilitated session, the commissioners (of the CCMA) concluded that the parties were not making any progress and each party was at liberty to exercise their rights. The consulting parties requested another session, and although management afforded them another two sessions, it was clear that after the seventh CCMA-facilitated session that the parties had failed to reach consensus after four months of consulting,” Mosia said.
He said that “in the interest of the possible affected employees”, the SABC has decided to “afford consulting parties one last chance to make a written submission regarding proposals to the structure or alternatives thereto”.
However, the Communication Workers Union has already lashed out at SABC management, accusing it of walking out of the section 189 consultations last Friday.
The union said in a statement that it will “assist in mobilising and galvanising the SABC workers for action” and will call on its alliance partners to “urgently intervene in what has become a mockery of joint decision making, fairness, transparency and meaningful engagement”.
It said, too, that it will report the SABC “bosses” to the parliamentary portfolio committee on communications and to the ministry of communications & digital technologies.
In addition, it will call on “all oversight structures in government and parliament to regain control over rogue SABC executives who have consistently shown them the proverbial middle finger as they continued to unapologetically plunge the SABC into a jobs bloodbath by circumventing the ability of the unions to fully engage with information in order to come out with alternatives”.
It called for the resignation of the board and the executive management team for “deliberately misleading the South African public, parliament, the minister (Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams) and the deputy minister of the department (Pinky Kekana)”.
It said it would now “urgently explore” the option of a full-blown strike or an urgent court application to “protect and test the integrity of the section 189 process”. – © 2020 NewsCentral Media