SABC board to propose alternatives to job cuts - minister

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A general view of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) offices in Durban, South Africa.
A general view of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) offices in Durban, South Africa.
Darren Stewart

The board of the South African Broadcasting Corporation is expected to table alternative proposals to planned jobs cuts at its meeting this week, the Department of Communications and Technology said in a statement on Wednesday.

The commitment came after engagements between minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams; her counterpart at Labour, Thulas Nxesi; unions and the SABC officials over the weekend. The meeting was aimed at ending the deadlock over retrenchments at the broadcaster, in a process expected to affect some 300 positions.

According to a statement, the ministers made a number of "alternative proposals" to parties to consider and explore.  

"The SABC board has requested to be afforded time to look at the proposals in their next board meeting, which will be held this coming Friday."

The SABC restructuring plan, which involves job cuts, is part of an attempt to curb rampant costs at the loss-making entity. But the process has been opposed by unions, and its implementation was hit by numerous delays.

'Signs of goodwill'

In November, a threat of a broadcast blackout prompted government's intervention through the department of communications, as workers staged lunchtime protests while a failed urgent court application calling for the withdrawal of redundancy letter to staff went underway.

"We were encouraged by the attitude and the spirit of the meetings with the SABC board and its executive management, and earlier with the unions," said Ndabeni-Abrahams. 

"We have noted signs of progress and goodwill among the parties at the negotiating table." 

The SABC is battling severe financial challenges, amid dropping income streams. There have been numerous calls for the broadcaster to consider various forms of funding in order to reduce its reliance on public funding.

It was announced early in January that a total of 303 people now stand to lose their jobs, down from the initial figure of 400. However, unions were still not happy with the development, with the Communication Workers Union calling accusing the SABC executives of lack of transparency and calling for a total withdrawal of redundancy notices.

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