Further clashes loom at SABC over 600 jobs on the line

The SABC describes the current financial crisis as 'the most critical for the future and sustainability of this 84-year-old institution'.
The SABC describes the current financial crisis as 'the most critical for the future and sustainability of this 84-year-old institution'.
  • SABC head of human resources Mojaki Mosia has written to staff at the public service broadcaster to inform them that the SABC can proceed with retrenchments.
  • Up to 600 employees are expected to be affected by the retrenchments, should they proceed.
  • The Broadcast, Electronic Media and Allied Workers Union denies that consultation was conducted in complete compliance with the Labour Relations Act.



In an ongoing tussle over looming job cuts at the public service broadcaster, the Broadcast, Electronic Media and Allied Workers Union has accused the South African Broadcasting Corporation of not conducting consultations with staff in compliance with the Labour Relations Act.

This comes after it emerged that SABC head of human resources Mojaki Mosia had written to staff at the broadcaster to inform them that the SABC could proceed with retrenchments after concluding its final consultation session on Friday. Unions, however, were being given one last chance to make a written submission.

Seven consultation sessions took place under the auspices of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration in compliance with Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act.

While 600 employees are expected to be affected by retrenchments, the public service broadcaster has been under pressure to drive down its costs as a host of other state-owned entities wait for some or other form of financial assistance from the state.

Mosia sent a letter to staff saying the Labour Relations Act empowered the SABC to "unilaterally implement the contemplated redundancies/retrenchments, having considered any submissions that may still be made in writing by Organised Labour and non-unionised employees". One final written submission on the matter would be allowed from affected parties.

Just making 'books look better' 

Bemawu said in a statement released on Monday that when the SABC letter was issued, the union was still in the process of questioning the SABC's intention to save jobs and whether there really existed a rationale to dismiss 600 staff members.

"We are of the strong view there is not, and this is simply used to make the books look better. A detailed report will be provided in respect hereof and a virtual meeting will be scheduled still this week," the union said.

The statement said the union denies that consultation was conducted in compliance with the Labour Relations Act as parties were busy with consultation, and the SABC terminated the consultation process via meetings.

"The act requires the employer to fully and properly consult and does not prescribe an employer must issue termination letters after 60 days. The 60 days is simply a safety measure built into the Act to prevent the employer to issue termination notices before the 60 days have lapsed," the statement said.

On Tuesday, Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Communications will get a briefing by the SABC on its skills audit report. The committee will also get a briefing from the Communication Workers Union and Bemawu.

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