SABC says its operations will not be affected amid reports of massive job cuts at its radio stations

Radio. (Photo: Getty Images)
Radio. (Photo: Getty Images)
  • According to reports all the on-air presenters at Radio Sonder Grense have been affected by retrenchments at the SABC.
  • Presenters will in future only be appointed on a freelance basis.
  • SABC Africa has seen 96% of its staff also affected by the 189 process currently underway at the public broadcaster. 

UPDATE: SABC ensures listeners that radio stations won’t be closing as it apologises for 'miscommunication'


UPDATE: 20 November, 09:14

The SABC board has suspended its retrenchment process for one week, a spokesperson announced.

"The board of the SABC would like to announce that it will suspend the [Section 189] process for a period of seven days. This will allow all stakeholders to further engage and explore further options in an effort to ensure the financial sustainability of the SABC," a statement released by acting SABC spokesperson Mmoni Seapolelo said.

"The SABC is committed to meaningfully engaging with all its stakeholders as it continues to make the corporation financially sustainable in order to fulfil its public mandate," Seapolelo said.


UPDATE: 19 November, 20:10

The SABC on Thursday night replied to Channel24's request for comment on the reports that several staff members at the public broadcaster's radio stations were handed letters of resignation this week.

"The SABC can confirm that the transition to the new organisational structure affects all SABC offices, across the country, however, this will not affect the corporation’s operations," Mmoni Seapolelo, acting spokesperson for the SABC said in an e-mail.

Mmoni added: "The SABC will not in any way compromise the quality of services provided to all South Africans. It must be noted that the SABC’s newly developed Target Operating model is designed with the sole purpose of ensuring long-term sustainability of a resilient and viable public broadcaster, so that it continues to deliver comprehensively on its mandate, serving the millions of South Africans who rely on it for education, information and entertainment.

"The SABC has several vacant positions, on all its platforms which all the affected employees are afforded an opportunity to apply for. In addition, some employees may take early retirement and voluntary severance package, which in turn creates additional vacancies for affected employees to consider. Accordingly, the final number of affected employees would be reduced."

All requests for comment made by Channel24 to several of the SABC's radio stations were referred to the SABC's corporate communication team.


UPDATE: 19 November, 19:20

RSG's station manager, Magdaleen Kruger, took to air again on Thursday afternoon, this time, to clarify concerns that the radio station would be shutting its doors amid job cuts at the SABC.

"No, RSG is not going to close or stop existing," Kruger said, adding that the station would be negotiating freelance contracts with its presenters affected by the current process. 

"Freelance contracts are not uncommon," she highlighted and ensured listeners that most of the changes would be happening behind the scenes and won't impact the voices heard on RSG. 
 


UPDATE: 19 November, 10:45

RSG’s station manager, Magdaleen Kruger, in an on-air interview confirmed that the radio station has been left devastated by the SABC’s current retrenchment process. 

According to Kruger only two permanent positions at the station were not affected. 

"At RSG the 5 permanent presenters – Martelize Brink, Johan Rademan, Fritz Klaaste, Jacqui January and Haidee Muller – all got letters, chilling, cold letters just saying your service is herewith terminated from 1 December," Kruger added.

"As things stand now I don't know how we will be able to keep the station on air from 1 January."

Some of the affected staff will be able to apply for positions within the new structure, however, this could mean salary cuts or demotions in some cases. "The five presenters won't be able to apply for their permanent positions again," Kruger said. 

Netwerk24 reported that presenters will be employed on a freelance basis going forward.

The same scene is reportedly playing off at several other SABC radio stations. Channel24 has reached out to the SABC and individual radio stations for comment and will update this article with their feedback when received.


ORIGINAL:

According to an online report by Netwerk24, all the presenters at the Afrikaans radio station RSG (Radio Sonder Grense) were issued letters of dismissal this week as the SABC announced its plans to cut 400 of its 2900 employees.

In total 12 of the current 14 permanent staff members at RSG were impacted by the 189 process in which the public broadcaster will retrench 10% or more of its workforce. 

"Staff may apply for positions within the 'new structure' when it is advertised. Presenters will only be appointed on a freelance basis," Netwerk24's Christiaan du Plessis reported. 

Although a comprehensive list of all the stations affected isn't currently available, insiders say the same situation is unfolding at several other well-known stations. 

Fin24 reported on Tuesday that 96% of SABC Africa staff, a service dedicated to continental news, have been served with redundancy letters. Only four positions are not affected. 

The public broadcaster has been dealing with severe funding issues in recent years, even failing to pay salaries on time last year. Government has in the last financial year extended R3.2 billion to help the company stay afloat. 

On Tuesday, the entity reported a net loss of R511 million and net cash outflows from operations of R1.2 billion for the financial reporting period to 31 March. 

Group CEO Madoda Mxakwe in an interview with Fin24's Marelise van der Merwe said on Friday that the SABC "cannot collapse under our watch", following an announcement that the public broadcaster would move ahead with restructuring.

The SABC is also considering a three-year salary freeze; reducing employee leave from 35 days to 28; stopping the cashing in of leave; and reducing sick leave from 30 days a year to the 36 days in three years stipulated by law.

This is a developing story and will be updated as new information becomes available.

(Sources: Netwerk24, Fin24)

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