Many former SABC employees are still waiting for the national broadcaster to pay out their severance packages, reports City Press.
Hannes du Buisson, president of the Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union (Bemawu), said the union has filed a dispute with the CCMA regarding delays to the payouts of over 40 of its members.
An SABC employee, who chose to remain anonymous, confirmed that he had not received the voluntary retrenchment package he had accepted earlier this year.
He said that the delayed payment has put him in a difficult financial situation as banks are already attempting to repossess his belongings.
“My colleagues who left in January have not been paid,” he added.
“We accepted retrenchments with an expectation that the SABC would fulfil its obligations, but we have not been paid.”
“You can’t tell people to take retrenchment packages and then not deliver. Some of us are unemployed. We’ve got bills to pay.”
The SABC acknowledged that the payment of retrenchment packages is ongoing, but said most have already been paid.
Over 600 SABC employees were retrenched at the end of March as part of the national broadcasters turnaround plan.
The Section 189 retrenchment process first began in June 2020 and spanned over 9 months before being finalised.
275 of these employees had their positions made redundant, while a further 346 opted for voluntary severance packages.
“Some were concerned about the impact of lower job scale codes resulting from the organisation-wide job evaluation process, on current salaries and their pension,” the SABC said.
“These colleagues took voluntary severance packages as a first option and chose not to participate in any alternative job-seeking processes.”
SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe said the retrenchment process was difficult for the SABC.
“The extended process unfortunately also created prolonged uncertainty and a sense of despondency for many. This was understandable and regrettable,” Mxakwe said.
“However, despite these challenges, the Section 189 process was a necessary component of the SABC’s turnaround plan to ensure the public broadcaster’s long term financial sustainability and capacity to fulfill its extensive public mandate.”
These retrenchments come as the SABC struggles financially, and the national broadcaster has therefore investigated ways to become profitable.
One such idea, mentioned in February by Deputy Minister of Communications Pinky Kekana, is to make the SABC a Public Service Media Broadcaster and fund it through a household levy.
“The main goal is to declare the SABC a public service media broadcaster. If you do that, the SABC will be able to be competitive,” said Kekana.
“We cannot fold our arms and say the status quo must remain when we know our public broadcaster is dwindling.”
Another suggestion is to force private broadcasters like MultiChoice to collect TV licenses on the SABC’s behalf.
“Broadcasters like MultiChoice should be obligated to collect TV licence fees,” said Kekana.
“We all have to say, lets put a threshold. If they have so many subscribers, you can be able to collect on behalf of the SABC.”
According to SABC CFO Yolande van Biljon, only 2.5 million of 9.5 million TV licence holders settled their TV licences last year.
This translates to R791 million out of a billed R3 billion.