The SABC board said on Friday that a plan to retrench 400 employees as part of a restructuring to get the public broadcaster on a sustainable financial footing has been suspended for seven days.
This follows strenuous objections by SABC employees, including newsroom staff, to the long-expected layoffs.
“The board of the SABC would like to announce that it will suspend the section 189 process for a period of seven days,” the broadcaster said. “This will allow all stakeholders to further engage and explore further options in an effort to ensure the financial sustainability of the SABC.”
The retrenchment plan has drawn criticism from some political quarters. It has also caused ructions on the SABC board, with deputy chair Mamodupi Mohlala-Mulaudzi — a controversial former director-general in the department of communications — criticising the move, despite it enjoying majority board support.
The plan to let go of 400 employees comes after the SABC had previously said it would have to retrench as many as 600. The SABC agreed to cut costs, including retrenchments, when it recently received a R3.2-billion bailout from national treasury.
‘Exhausted all other options’
“The SABC is fully cognisant of the fact that this process will affect people’s livelihoods and, moreover, have a knock-on effect on their families and communities. However, having exhausted all other options, we are now faced with the difficult task of having to restructure the organisation to ensure its sustainability,” the public broadcaster said in a statement on 11 November.
Labour unions have threatened to strike over the planned retrenchments. But the SABC said it conducted many consultative sessions with employees and unions over a period of four months, “significantly exceeding” the statutory minimum requirement of four meetings over two months.
In addition to the 400 retrenchments, the SABC identified 97 positions that would form part of an outsourcing initiative.
All affected employees would be offered a severance package of one week for each completed year of service, the broadcaster said. — © 2020 NewsCentral Media