SABC CEO Mxakwe tries unsuccessfully to address protesting workers

SABC Chief Executive Madoda Mxakwe has tried to address striking Communication Workers Union (CWU) members outside the headquarters of the public broadcaster after receiving a memorandum against retrenchments. However, he was unable to speak above the noise of the crowd.

He says SABC management would respond to the demands next week. The SABC has suspended the Section 189 process for a week to allow for further consultation.

As many as 400 full-time staff could be retrenched. Many full-time workers have already received letters of redundancy.

CWU members have held pickets outside SABC offices across the country. The union had given SABC management and the board until 17:00 on Thursday to stop the retrenchments and to retract all letters of redundancy that have already been issued to affected staff.

An urgent SABC board meeting took place late on Thursday and in the early hours of Friday. The board issued a statement announcing that they’ve suspended the Section 189 retrenchment process for seven days to allow for further consultation.

Mxakwe says the SABC board will study the memorandum and then management will consult with the union.

“We have received this memorandum and we will then take it to the board of the SABC and once a response has been submitted, we will then accordingly engage with the leadership of CWU in terms of the outcome and the ANC Youth League.”

The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government has added its voice on the looming retrenchments at the SABC and the South African Qualifications Authority.

KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala says job cuts at the SABC will not only add to the numbers of unemployed, but it will compromise the public broadcaster’s mandate of reaching the poorest of the poor some of who are in deep rural areas.

“The media reported widely on imminent retrenchment in the country in particular in some of the state-owned entities. This includes the SABC as well as the South African Qualifications Authority. We have heard the cry and pain of workers especially those who are employed by the SABC and in various entities. For a long time, the media industry has been shedding jobs and this is now frustrating coming to workers even at the level of the SABC.”