SABC lunch hour picket to continue

Lunch-hour pickets are expected to continue at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) on Tuesday against its restructuring plans, which will see about 400 permanent workers lose their jobs. The Congress of the People (COPE) says they will join SABC workers and labour unions in the fight to stop retrenchments.

In a statement, COPE says Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams must stop making empty promises and playing for the gallery in front of the cameras.

On Monday, a group of SABC employees, led by several Editors from the News Division staged a lunch-hour picket at the public broadcaster’s headquarters in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, pleading with management to reconsider its position.

Despite threats of legal action and protests, the SABC is forging ahead with its restructuring, saying the process is aimed at making the organisation financially sustainable.

Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) also joined the SABC workers’ pickets, as the Editors slammed management, saying their planned changes will compromise the organisation’s public broadcasting mandate.

Workers say they are not happy about the retrenchments as the process of engagement was not transparent, also not justifiable and are calling for management to go back to the discussion table.

While some workers say SABC is violating section 192 of the constitution, which guarantees public broadcasting for South Africans. They say they cannot have a structure that is more appropriate to a private commercial entity.

The Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) says the issuing of what it calls “letters of termination” by the SABC to employees before consultations are concluded is illegal and the matter is to be ventilated in the Labour Court.

The SABC said last week that employees whose posts were redundant would be issued letters by Wednesday this week. Bemawu is applying to the court to interdict retrenchments at the public broadcaster.