More than 380 Sentech workers around the country are engaged in strike action after the parastatal locked out staff on Saturday who gave notice of their intention to strike.
The strike, which includes technicians, could potentially disrupt terrestrial television broadcasting in South Africa, which is largely done through Sentech’s national signal distribution network.
On Thursday, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) gave Sentech 48 hours’ notice of an intention to strike, affecting Sentech operations from Saturday. In response, Sentech gave the workers a lockout notice affecting CWU members around the country.
“We have three core demands that we have lodged as a dispute with the CCMA [the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration],” CWU representative Alfred Hlongwane tells TechCentral. “These are salary, housing allowance and a 13th cheque.”
Hlongwane says workers have been demanding a 13th cheque for the past 10 years. “This year, the workers said it’s ‘do or die’. They want the 13th cheque.”
The workers involved in the strike action include procurement, finance, payroll and technical personnel.
Hlongwane says the national transmission centre, which monitors and controls all Sentech broadcasting feeds, has been affected by the strike action, says Hlongwane. He says management has had to step in to ensure continuity of broadcasting services.
Strike action is taking place in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Polokwane and Durban, with the company set to meet with the CWU in Sandton later on Monday. TechCentral visited Sentech’s head office at Radiokop, north of Johannesburg, on Thursday, where dozens of protesting strikers were dancing, singing and waving placards outlining their demands.
“We want management to accede to our demands. Even if it’s not exactly what we want, it must come very close,” says Hlongwane.
A Sentech spokesman could not be reached for comment. — © 2014 NewsCentral Media