Judgment is expected to be handed down today in the Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union’s (BEMAWU) urgent application in the Labour Court in Johannesburg for an order to compel the SABC to withdraw redundancy letters.
The union also wants the public broadcaster to engage in a fair process regarding its restructuring plans which could see as many as 400 permanent staff members lose their jobs.
The SABC has argued that the restructuring is necessary to make the public broadcaster financially sustainable.
SABC management has defended its restructuring plans and says BEMAWU’s court application is not urgent, as the retrenchment process has been put on hold until the end of the month.
It also argued that it has significantly managed to reduce the number of employees who’ll be retrenched from 600 to 400.
BEMAWU says the SABC failed to engage in a fair consultation process before issuing termination letters.
The union is now hoping the Labour Court will order the SABC to withdraw the redundancy letters and to pay the legal costs.
Meanwhile, Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams says her department and the National Treasury are discussing the funding of the SABC. She was speaking in the National Assembly during a debate on the situation at the public broadcaster.
Ndabeni-Abrahams says the SABC receives only 17% of its funding from public sources. She says at the heart of the crisis at the SABC is the appropriate funding model for the expansive public mandate amid escalating costs for content, signal distribution and labour.
In the video below, National Assembly debates escalating situation at SABC:
The African National Congress (ANC) has called on the SABC’s leadership to work with all stakeholders to find a solution to its funding problems.
ANC MP and Communications Committee Chair Boyce Maneli says retrenchments at the public broadcaster must be the last resort.
Maneli says the public broadcaster must explore all opportunities and use digital platforms to increase revenue while reducing costs.
He adds that the public broadcaster should find ways to collect revenue from commercial broadcasters that carry its content.
Earlier, the Inkatha Freedom Party’s (IFP) Zandile Majozi blamed instability and poor leadership in the ruling ANC for the public broadcaster’s financial woes. Majozi says the current SABC Board must stay on.
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