Tuesday, November 24, 2020

BREAKING. Bowing under trade union and political pressure the cash-strapped SABC once again suspends its retrenchment plan until 2021, says it will further review its proposed restructuring.

by Thinus Ferreira

After an acrimonious week of in-fighting between top management, the SABC board and trade unions - sprinkled with political parties adding their populist voices to say they're against any job losses as well - the beleaguered South African public broadcaster on Tuesday announced that it had caved before trade union and political pressure and is once again suspending its retrenchment process until 2021.

The SABC stressed that the retrenchment process has however not been terminated - just suspended.

The SABC roughly requires R270 million per month just to pay salaries with the wage bill that is by far the biggest single expense at the crumbling broadcaster. 

After retrenchment letters were issued, angry and upset SABC workers have been protesting about the overstaffed SABC's retrenchment plan in which 400 workers could likely lose their jobs. 

Some political parties like the ANC and EFF have joined trade unions and protesting SABC workers in public protest action.

The SABC board have said in 2019 and again this year that if the ANC-led government doesn't want job cuts it will need to commit to give the SABC an additional R1 billion per year. The SABC that just made a net loss of R511 is on track to make another loss of at least R1.2 billion next year.

Meanwhile, staff say that SABC top management executives took a lazy, uninformed and unworkable cookie-cutter approach in deciding on cuts within the proposed new SABC structure.

On Tuesday the SABC in a statement announced that the "SABC board has extended the suspension of the section 189 process, to the end of December 2020, to enable additional consultations. This decision followed further engagements with organised labour and other stakeholders". 

The SABC said that "During this period, the SABC management and its employees will jointly work with all participating parties, to further review the proposed structures with the intent to ensure that they are optimal and enabling to achieve the public mandate of the SABC."

"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 issued redundancy letters will also be extended by the same period."