SABC ignores government instruction to stop job cuts

The SABC board plans to defy an instruction from Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi to halt its retrenchment process.

The state broadcaster will continue its retrenchment process affecting 400 workers next year in an effort to save costs.

Earlier this week, the two ministers told the SABC to halt job cuts and look for other solutions to improve the financial situation at the public broadcaster.

Speaking to the City Press, however, the SABC board said Ndabeni-Abrahams offered no alternative solutions, and stressed that it cannot afford to pay its wage bill if it does not take action.

“As things stand, the SABC cannot afford to pay salaries beyond March if it fails to retrench the 400 workers,” the board said.

“As board members, we have to make decisions that are in the best interests of the SABC or we could face action for failing to exercise our fiduciary duties. Forget about politicians and their instructions.”

This means that unless another bailout is received from the government, the SABC will be forced to continue with the planned retrenchments.

The SABC’s last bailout was granted under the condition that the SABC implements measures to cut costs, which it is now doing via the retrenchment of up to 400 employees.

Fight over job cuts

Labour unions have stirred up protests in reaction to news of retrenchments, threatening blackouts at the state broadcaster and organising strike actions.

Unions also plan to combat the retrenchments in labour court, arguing that the problems at the SABC do not stem from its general staff.

Trade union Solidarity echoed this sentiment, demanding 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.

While the job cuts were initially meant to be implemented last week, they have since been suspended until the end of December.

“The SABC and the participating parties will utilise this time for further mediated sessions with an independent labour expert to explore alternative options to minimising the impact of retrenchments,” the SABC said.

The issued redundancy letters will also be extended by the same period, it said, noting that the Section 189 process has not been terminated.

The SABC and unions have met many times over the past four months to try and find solutions to the problem, but the board has said that these retrenchments are the only sustainable solution.

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SABC ignores government instruction to stop job cuts