Generations on SABC1 is set to run out of available recorded episodes with the actors in two weeks's time anyway, following the firing of the soap's entire principal cast last month by the SABC and Mfundi Vundla's MMSV Productions after they went on strike.
The cast went on strike 10 months after the Generations' actors first embared on a stayaway. The SABC's controversial and famously matricless chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng personally promised them three year contracts instead of one year renewals in June 2013 which never materialised.
The cast also want payment rate adjustments since they say their salaries working on the most watched TV show in South Africa is not in line with what other soap stars and actors earn. They also want the promised residual payments over many years and which are part of their contracts for rebroadcasts and international sales - payments they have never received.
Cosatu is now urging the soap's viewers - an average of 7,5 million viewers tune in every weeknight enabling the SABC to ask R220 000 per 30 second ad spot - to tune out the SABC's Generations during primetime and to also not watch the next morning's repeats or the weekend omnibus from next week.
"Generations made a profit of R500 million in one financial year, but failed to pay royalties calculated over 11 years. That is blatant robbery," said Zwelinzima Vavi, Cosatu's general secretary on Tuesday.
Cosatu met with the Generations cast last week on Wednesday and then with the SABC on Thursday. Cosatu also wanted to meet with MMSV Productions and Mfundi Vundla who flat out refused and said that he will never take the fired Generations actors back.
Meanwhile the SABC still has Generations on the schedule for October in the primetime slot of 20:00 although there exist no episodes to broadcast after the end of this month. The show is the single biggest moneymaker for the public broadcaster.
"Cosatu, the creative Workers Union of South Africa and the Communications Workers Union are giving their full backing to the 16 Generations actors who have been out of work for a month and are determined to win their reinstatement," says Cosatu.
"The fight is not just for their own jobs but for all the creative workers - actors, musicians and technicians - who are exploited on a daily basis by production companies and broadcasters and earn wages which in no way reflect either their work's monetary worth, or most importantly the pleasure it gives to thousands of people".
"It is a scandal that so many of our greatest artists die in poverty after a lifetime of entertaining the public," says Cosatu.
"A week long national Generations switch-off by viewers will start on 15 September, focused on the adverts shown before, during and after showings of Generations - 20:00 to 20:30 on SABC1, repeats at 09:30 to 10:00 on SABC3 and the Generations omnibus from 09:00 to 12:00 on Saturday 20 September on SABC1," says Cosatu.
Cosatu wants pressure to be placed on companies who advertise during Generations., and is planning to picket the SABC and to deliver a petition.