The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has given the SABC an ultimatum – retract letters of dismissals by Thursday evening or face the wrath of workers and a blackout.
The SABC recently announced it will cut up to 400 jobs after exhausting all other options to ensure the sustainability of the business.
The retrenchment plans followed other cost-cutting measures, like freezing salary increases for three years, reducing employee leave, and reducing sick leave.
The state broadcaster started to hand out retrenchment letters on Tuesday, which was met with a backlash from employees.
Furious newsroom staff voiced their unhappiness with the process and demanded a meeting with top management to address their concerns.
After a heated exchange between employees and managers, SABC group executive for news, Phathiswa Magopeni committed to suspending the retrenchment process for news staff.
Magopeni’s promise was welcomed with celebrations from newsroom staff, but their happiness was short-lived.
Shortly after Magopeni’s commitment to staff, SABC chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini announced the SABC was going ahead with retrenchments.
He explained the retrenchments were a board-approved resolution and part of the company’s turnaround plan.
This did not go down well with SABC staff and unions, who vowed to fight the retrenchments through strike action.
CWU general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala said unless the SABC board and management abandon its retrenchment plans, the broadcaster will face a blackout on Friday.
Tshabalala added that the shutdown will continue next week and they will revisit the issue on Wednesday 25 November.
Leave SABC presenters alone and prosecute SABC looters
Trade union Solidarity also joined the fight against the SABC’s controversial retrenchment process on behalf of its members.
The union demanded that presenters and other innocent SABC employees be left alone and that the looters and corrupt ones be prosecuted and dismissed.
“With irregular expenditure of more than R5 billion that is still awaiting condonation, or is subject to further investigation, it is reckless and merciless to retrench staff with no further ado, while the corrupt ones get away with murder,” said Solidarity CEO Dirk Hermann.
Solidarity also requested that the Public Protector investigate the chaotic situation at the SABC.
“Tax money has been used recklessly. The problem must be investigated at its root and the guilty ones must be taken to task or prosecuted,” said Hermann.
He said the national broadcaster’s financial situation is chaotic and that the loss of R511 million did not come about as the result of good employees.
“The big loss is the result of rotten management that plunged the broadcaster into a crisis through reckless decisions,” said Hermann.
“If rotten and reckless management is the problem, then the answer cannot be to get rid of your best staff.”