Broadcasting Services

South Africa: SABC May Faces New Court Battle For "Unfair" Retrenchment Accusations

As reported by the media, the three unions representing South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) workers are having ongoing meetings to finalise strategies that may land the SABC in court. The unions, namely, Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union (Bemawu), Communication Workers Union (CWU) and Information Communications and Technology Union (ICTU), have vowed that they will once again take the public broadcaster to the labour court following the retrenchment of 621 workers last week.

Bemawu spokesperson Hannes du Buisson said the unions believe there are grounds to challenge the retrenchments. Reports from SABC workers have indicated that the dismissals were unfair and voluntary packages were accepted on an unreasonable basis, said the spokesperson. He added, members have alleged that there were being offered salaries that they earned 35years ago should they wish to keep their jobs.

According to the reports, Du Buisson said the major challenge is how the SABC selected persons who should be retrenched. He highlighted the process as being flawed based on the requirements that were applied. Du Buisson then emphasised the unions' conviction to challenge the outcome. In response, the SABC Chief Executive, Madoda Mxakwe, assured that necessary steps to ensure the public broadcaster's financial viability were taken. The statement was supported by the SABC's spokesperson Mmoni Seapolelo who confirmed that the broadcaster was confident that it had followed the necessary steps to ensure that the retrenchment process was fair.

The unions have highlighted that part of their court case will include issues relating to the hiring of unqualified staff in acting positions to avoid permanent recruitment for those positions and outsourcing work to external agencies.

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