SABC staff threaten to strike

Labour unions representing a number of SABC staff have given acting CEO Nomsa Philiso seven days to deliver on a list of 13 demands, or they will go on strike.

A joint letter by the Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) and the Communication Workers Union (CMU) delivered a list of 13 demands to Philiso on Friday.

“We write this letter to you with sincere and extreme urgency, with the hope and belief you would be able to address, with the same urgency our concerns and demands,” the joint statement reads.

“The SABC has been plagued by bad management, bad managerial decisions costing the public broadcaster a deficit of more than a billion rand, bad publicity caused by the board, chairperson of the board and top management.

“We have been subjected to management by threats and fear, unilateral restructurings, change of work practices and shift roster, appointments without advertising positions and a zero-percentage increase.”

The letter said most of the “enforcers” who were responsible for the infamous protest policy and the subsequent dismissal of SABC journalists were “still employed at lucrative salaries at the SABC”.

“For them its business as usual, and they have escaped justice.”

List of demands

Among other issues raised were the non-renewal of contracts of loyal staff and freelancers, salaries not being paid, and a rumour of the cancellation of 13th cheques.

Among the 13 demands:

  • The immediate appointment of the SABC board;
  • Suspension of all enforcers of the protest policy, of which they have alleged four names are responsible;
  • Managers who were unprocedurally appointed, or who had contributed to the SABC’s dire financial constraints, of which they have listed eight names, including company secretary Theresa Geldenhuys;
  • Structural work patterns must return to normal;
  • The restoration of the merger between Henley and SABC News;
  • Salary increase of 10% across the board, backdated to April;
  • Appointment of all workers on fixed-term contracts that have lapsed;
  • The removal of Kenneth Makatees as acting head of news, and the redeployment of Themba Mathonsi;
  • Probes into various longstanding editorial decisions at the broadcaster.

“Employees are tired of his Gestapo style of management,” the unions say.

“Should these demands not be met in seven days, excluding the unilateral change to the shift roster of news staff, from date of this letter, Labour will file a dispute and ballot its members to seek a mandate for a protected strike.”

SABC board still not appointed

Bemawu spokesperson Hannes du Buisson confirmed to News24 that the letter was delivered on Friday.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago told News24 that he was not yet aware of the letter, as the acting CEO was not at head office to comment on its delivery.

The appointment of the SABC board has been delayed by more than two weeks by President Jacob Zuma, whose office claims it is still vetting the 12 candidates.

The interim board’s mandate expired on September 26, leaving the public broadcaster leaderless once again.

Zuma received the names over a month ago.

A City Press report last week alleged that Zuma and Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo were deliberately delaying the appointment of the SABC board to make their own appointments at the three executive positions.

Presidency spokesperson Dr Bongani Ngqulunga strongly denied the allegations in a statement.

It took Zuma 11 days to appoint the five-man interim board.


Now read: Presidency responds to SABC 8 open letter

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SABC staff threaten to strike