New SABC structure might change as consultation process continues: Ian Plaatjies

picket - New SABC structure might change as consultation process continues: Ian Plaatjies

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) says the new structure at the public broadcaster might change as it continues to engage with unions and staff. The public broadcaster’s board has extended the suspension of the retrenchment process until the end of December to allow for further engagements.

However, management has maintained that the retrenchment process has been fair and has denied that the extension of the suspension is an admission of wrongdoing on the process so far.

“From a legal perspective we could have executed on the 189 process without doing anything else but we are allowing for additional time so that the staff as well as labour can give additional input into whatever parts of the structure that they want to. It’s not about not doing it right the first place, the structures were developed by the GEs and their leadership team and we undertake that we will meaningfully allow people to engage in the process and the structures and we will take their input into account,” says SABC Chief Operations Officer, Ian Plaatjies.

The public broadcaster says the Section 189 notices issued so far to staff are still in effect but that the date of implementation of those notices has now been moved by 30 days to the end of January.

Plaatjies says retrenchment notices to staff will only be withdrawn if that person’s position is no longer redundant.

“We are not suspending or avoiding or terminating the 189 process, we are suspending the implementation of that.  If certain jobs are no longer redundant we will then withdraw that specific letter but the last thing we want to do is give people false hope. The structures can change; we are going to be engaging in this in an open way. While we are open for those structures to change, it will go through a process. It is not just an automatic thing it has to make sense within our target operating model. The current letters that were sent out to affected employees will now move on by 30 days as well and that will move to the 31st of January.”

Employees’ reaction

Employees affiliated to the Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) have continued to picket outside the broadcaster’s offices. They have expressed anger and disappointment with how the board has conducted the process so far.

They say the board has failed to demonstrate the leadership required during a crisis. “I’m actually disappointed with Madoda, who hasn’t shown leadership since he’s gotten here. He’s chosen to pocket his R4 million and not come up with a solution,” says one employee.

Employees picket against retrenchments at the SABC:

Unions’ positions

The Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers’ Union (Bemawu) says while they welcome the extension – they have an issue with the SABC’s refusal to withdraw the termination and redundancy letters.

“That is where the parties have kind of deadlocked. The SABC was not prepared, and it is our view that SABC wants to enter into bona fide, consensus-seeking consultation process then those letters should be removed and then the SABC can re-issue them at a later stage, which we hope does not happen,” says president Hannes Du Buisson.

He says the union will continue to interdict the process through the justice system.

The union will ask the court to declare the issued letters null and void:

CWU ‘s President Aubrey Tshabalala says they are willing to engage with the management.

“We are saying that we are willing to resolve issues at the SABC, we want to turn things around at the SABC, but not at the expense of workers that shall not happen. Workers were not involved when they were signing tenders, workers were not involved when they were exercising wasteful expenditure.”

He says workers are not responsible for the status quo at the national broadcaster: 


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