SABC insists there will be no blackout as rift with workers widens

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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'.
  • The South African Broadcasting Corporation maintains it has contingency plans to prevent a blackout as the rift with unions of job cuts re-emerges.
  • The public service broadcaster's news website released a report which said unions expect a blackout on the SABC's broadcasting platforms on Friday.
  • The Communication Workers Union and the Broadcast, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union marched to the Union Buildings on Wednesday.



The South African Broadcasting Corporation confirmed on Thursday that it was aware organised labour had threatened to plunge the public service broadcaster into a "blackout" on Friday, but maintained it had contingency plans to avoid this.

This came as the SABC's own news website released a report which said the Communication Workers Union expected a blackout on the SABC's broadcasting platforms on Friday as union members prepared to down tools.

Since late 2020 the SABC has been engulfed in an impasse with employees over plans management had to cut jobs with a view of reducing the cost of employee compensation on the beleaguered broadcaster. After demonstrations and a fiery Parliamentary meeting, management agreed to put plans to cut jobs on ice.

The SABC and labour have since gone into discussions on the impasse. Members of CWU and the Broadcast, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union marched to the Union Buildings on Wednesday and handed in a memorandum of demands, including an intervention into the impasse that saves jobs.

SABC management is also expected to hold a media briefing on Friday to update the media on discussions with labour on the consultation process it undertook with labour section in terms of section 189 of the Labour Relations Act.

SABC spokesperson Vuyo Mthembu confirmed that the broadcaster was aware of a threat to cause a blackout by Unions on Friday but said any employee who participates in any strike action will do so on a no work no pay basis.

"The public broadcaster would like to assure the public [that] the SABC has contingency plans in place to ensure the continuous running of SABC services, as millions of South Africans on a daily basis depend on the public broadcaster for news and information," said Mthembu.

Mthembu said the SABC held 48 consultation sessions over six months, which included both unionised and non-unionised employees and exceeded the minimum legislative requirements of 60 days and four sessions.

"This included seven Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration facilitated consultative sessions, nine bilateral sessions, 28 divisional structure consultative sessions, and four facilitated sessions by an independent labour expert," Mthembu said.

She said the SABC is satisfied that the section 189 process will withstand legal scrutiny and affected employees were applying for the 170 vacancies, which form part of the new fit for purpose structure.

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