‘We are ready to step on to the battlefield’, say unions of the SABC’s stalled 189 process

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Deputy Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams. Picture: Siyabulela Duda
Deputy Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams. Picture: Siyabulela Duda

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The SABC’s board has extended the suspension of the section 189 process meant to retrench more than 400 workers to the end of December, despite its insistence on cutting its wage bill.

The public broadcaster said the extension was to enable additional consultations after a tense two days when it came under fire from Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi and the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which are all opposed to the retrenchments.

The issued redundancy letters will also be extended by the same period. The section 189 process has not been terminated. The SABC remains committed to a fair and transparent process,
Mmoni Seapolelo

“During this period, the SABC management and its employees will jointly work with all participating parties, to review the proposed structures with the intention of ensuring that they are optimal and able to achieve the public mandate of the SABC,” said Mmoni Seapolelo, the broadcaster’s acting spokesperson.

Read: SABC, unions in standoff over job cuts

She said the organisation and participating parties would utilise this time for mediated sessions with an independent labour expert to explore alternatives to minimise the impact of retrenchments.

“The issued redundancy letters will also be extended by the same period. The section 189 process has not been terminated. The SABC remains committed to a fair and transparent process,” said Seapolelo.

Both ministers implored the board and its executive management to go back to the negotiating table with the aim of ensuring that all available opportunities were thoroughly explored prior to embarking on a retrenchment process, which, they said, must always be the last resort.

Ndabeni-Abrahams and Nxesi said they would continue to observe developments within the SABC with keen interest to ensure that it continued to meet its core mandate of providing broadcasting services to the people of South Africa.

“A functional SABC is in the interest of all South Africans. I am therefore determined to support efforts aimed at finding an amicable solution to the problem,” said Ndabeni-Abrahams.

The general secretary of the CWU, Aubrey Tshabalala, said they were confident that the section 189 process would eventually be scrapped and the SABC would meet their demand to withdraw all the dismissal letters issued to workers.

Read: SABC retrenchments: union says strike starts on Friday

“Eventually, they will be forced to back off because we are ready to roll up our sleeves and step on to the battlefield should we not come to an agreement by Wednesday,” Tshabalala said.

He said the CWU and the Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union should be praised for stalling the process, which was supposed to have been concluded around June this year before the unions threatened to strike and take the SABC to the labour court.


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Gcina Ntsaluba 

Journalist

+27 11 713 9001
gcina.ntsaluba@citypress.co.za
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