The South African broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has issued a notice to staff stating that it will retrench thousands of employees in an effort to save costs.
This news comes after the SABC met with unions in September to discuss the retrenchment of employees to cut its high salary costs.
The state broadcaster confirmed it will proceed with Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act, retrenching up to 981 permanent employees and 1,200 of its 2,400 freelancers.
Around 3,400 permanent employees work at the SABC, meaning this restructuring will result in the broadcaster terminating almost a third of its workforce.
“It is envisaged that all employees and at all levels in the SABC will be affected by the restructuring,” the SABC said in a statement.
“This would include Group Services, Provincial Operations, Commercial Enterprises, Media Technology and Infrastructure, News, Radio, Sport and Television.”
“It is envisaged that 981 employees may possibly be retrenched as a result of the restructuring, across all the aforesaid business units and operations of the SABC,” the broadcaster added.
The SABC plans to complete this process by the end of January 2019 in an effort to turn around its financial situation.
These measures will also address “endemic levels of corruption and maladministration that have been prevalent at the SABC for many years”.
The SABC has been in a dire financial situation for some time, posting a massive R622-million loss for the year ended 31 March 2018.
Its financial situation is so dire that Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu said the SABC was commercially insolvent as it was unable to pay its debts on time.
This is despite the high salaries earned by SABC executives and senior management, many of whom received over R1 million in total remuneration for the past financial year.
According to SABC chairman Bongumusa Makhathini, the SABC board has implemented measures to stabilise the corporation.
“The corporation is still paying the price for years of ineffective leadership, failed governance, and prejudicial decision making,” he said.
“Self-inflicted actions like the arbitrary 90-10 decision continue to impact on the SABC’s revenue,” he added, addressing the impact of local content quotas.
In its statement regarding the layoffs, the SABC said it should save around R440 million per year following the restructuring.
“This exercise should result in a cost saving of approximately R440 million per annum, even at this preliminary stage,” the broadcaster said.
“This amount excludes the projected cost savings from the planned reduction of freelancers.”
The SABC said it would comply with all relevant legal requirements and would ensure that employees are kept abreast of developments surrounding the restructuring.