The two major unions at the SABC have declared disputes over annual wage negotiations after the corporation’s chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, this past week told staff to accept his 8% increase offer, or they would be “load shed”.
By Friday, disputes had been declared by the Broadcast, Electronic, Media andamp; Allied Workers’ Union (Bemawu) and the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU).
Sources said that at the general staff meeting on Tuesday, Motsoeneng also told workers “nonunion staff will receive their 8% at the end of June”.
“No way as a trade union can we accept such a thing,” said CWU deputy general secretary Thabo Mogalane.
“This is a public broadcaster. It is supposed to pursue the ideals of government ... He is undermining the working people.”
SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago denied the accounts from staff.
“At no point did [Motsoeneng] say staff would be ‘load shed’ if the offer on the table was not accepted.
“What Mr Motsoeneng said was that, as an organisation, we have to be responsible not to offer a percentage that is not sustainable, as we would be running the risk of possible retrenchments in the future.”
A person who was at the meeting said after it had taken place: “This is union-bashing of the first degree. We had not even declared a dispute at that stage.”
The unions are especially infuriated by Motsoeneng’s handling of negotiations because staff received an 8.5% increase even during the SABC’s darkest financial days.
And, said Bemawu president Hannes du Buisson: “Not long ago, Motsoeneng and the minister of communications [Faith Muthambi] stood there and told Parliament that the SABC, a not-for-profit organisation, had R1 billion in the bank while they only needed R600 million to run the corporation.”
Several sources said the SABC had recently put out a tender for the refurbishment of its gym, or “wellness centre”, and Muthambi had told Parliament R3 million a year was spent on the SABC choir.
Du Buisson said: “We have documentary proof that a consultant was recently hired on a R100 000-a-month salary to consult on work where there is an entire department in place – organisational development – to do the same work. So clearly, they have money to spend.”
The SABC responded only to the matter of the gym, which Kganyago said should be applauded because it benefited staff.
He said: “In terms of this year’s offer, it is comparatively better than what staff received last year.
“The offer in total amounts to 10% and this incorporates an increase in benefits.”