Home South African Union wants entire SABC board sacked as staff go on strike again

Union wants entire SABC board sacked as staff go on strike again

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The Communication Workers Union has called on government to sack the entire board and place the struggling SABC under administration

South Africa – Johannesburg – 25 June 2019 – 15 people were hospitalised for mild smoke inhalation, whilst some had sustained burn wounds following a fire at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)

THE COMMUNICATION Workers Union (CWU) has called for President Cyril Ramaphosa to dissolve the board of directors of the SABC, which it claims has failed in its duty to run the public broadcaster, and ensure it maintains its public mandate.

The union said that the best option would now be for the government to sack the entire board and place the struggling SABC under administration. The union said it will once again go on strike to protest against the impending retrenchments.

This comes as the public broadcaster finds itself entangled in a tug-of-war with labour unions over its plans to retrench 303 workers as part of its restructuring process aimed at saving costs.

The see-saw battle between the unions and the SABC has been ongoing since November 2020 when the public broadcaster announced a series of plans to restructure including a three-year salary freeze, reduction of leave days and a halt in the cashing in of leave days.

The union’s Aubrey Tshabalala said the public broadcaster had been mistaken in thinking that because it had changed on numerous occasions its initial plans to retrench some 900 workers to 600 workers and then 400, and now 303, this would be a cause for celebration.

Wednesday’s strike action by the CWU is set to begin at the SABC’s headquarters at Auckland Park with a motorcade that will drive to the Union Buildings in Tshwane to hand over a memorandum to Ramaphosa.

“The deadlock between the CWU and the SABC has dictated to us that we should indeed embark on industrial action. This is with the intention to force SABC to reconsider its position, and we believe that we can do that and that it is achievable,” Tshabalala said.

Among the grievances Tshabalala said they were set to deliver to Ramaphosa was their strong opposition to the turnaround strategy that was mentioned by the SABC, as the CWU believed it regressed the gains that had been attained since 1994.

Tshabalala said the issue of the marginalisation of indigenous languages was also high on their agenda because Limpopo languages such as Venda and Tsonga had been put into one bundle, under one administration, despite the fact that each has massive listenership.

“This is also the case with the languages of Sesotho and Setswana on radio which is Lesedi FM and Motsweding FM. They are combined together as a Free State combo and we have languages in Mpumalanga such as isiNdebele and siSwati that are clustered, but priority is given to English and Afrikaans.

“That in itself brings about elements of tribalism and it’s a very dangerous thing to play with as the public broadcaster in that space. Another demand is that the position of outsourcing is worrisome.

“We are beginning to empower the private institutions at the expense of the public broadcaster, at the expense of workers, because those who stand to benefit are those in the private sector and we are saying there should be no outsourcing at the SABC,” Tshabalala said.