Despite severe criticism from communications minister Nomvula Mokonyane, the SABC intends pushing ahead with a restructuring that is likely to include retrenchments to reduce its cost base.
Earlier this month, SABC management met with organised labour to communicate about a possible retrenchments programme under section 189 of the Labour Relations Act. The move prompted Mokonyane on Monday to issue a statement saying she is strongly opposed to any retrenchments, despite the corporation’s cash-flow crisis.
In a letter to all SABC employees on Tuesday, which TechCentral has seen, the public broadcaster’s general executive for human resources, Jonathan Thekiso, said: “In line with our commitment of ensuring transparency, please note that this process remains on course, as approved by the board.”
In her statement on Monday, Mokonyane said she had met with the board several times and “expressed dissatisfaction with the preferred methods of implementation of the turnaround plan” submitted to her for “concurrence”.
“While the minister appreciates the precarious financial position of the public broadcaster and the urgent need to contain costs, the minister has lamented the fact that despite numerous meetings with the SABC board on the need for a comprehensive approach to a turnaround of the public broadcaster, the board has insisted on retrenchment as the foremost and only solution,” her office said in the statement.
In the letter to staff, Thekiso said that “since we announced that the SABC contemplates implementing section 189 of the Labour Relations Act, there have been many confusing messages emanating from various stakeholders on this process”. The process “remains on course” and the SABC will “keep all employees fully informed of any developments in this matter”.
The SABC board and the minister now appear set for a further clash over the restructuring plan. The cash-strapped corporation, which reported a full-year loss of R622-million in the past financial year, employs 4 000 people and has an annual salary bill of R3.1-billion. — (c) 2018 NewsCentral Media