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BEMAWU serves SABC with letter of demand over planned retrenchments

Lawyers for the Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union (BEMAWU) have served the SABC with a letter of demand over its planned retrenchments.

The union demands among other things, that the SABC confirm in writing that it will return to the consultative process with immediate effect. This is after talks between the SABC and unions on the Section 189 process broke down.

The parties met last week under the auspices of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). The letter also demands a written undertaking from the public broadcaster that no members affiliated to BEMAWU will be dismissed.

The union threatens that it will approach the Labour Court should the SABC not accede to their demands. In June, the SABC issued a letter of redundancy to staff. The process could lead to the retrenchment of as many as 600 permanent staff.

BEMAWU spokesperson Hannes du Boisson says, “We can confirm that we’ve served the SABC today with a letter of demand from our lawyers to put them on terms to give them a deadline to respond to us, to confirm that they will return properly and further consult with us. There’s a number of issues that we have not consulted on and if the SABC is not going to accede to that very reasonable request on our side then we will draft papers and serve the SABC with an urgent interdict.”

Looming retrenchments at SABC cannot be avoided: Magopeni

The Group Executive for News and Current Affairs at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Phathiswa Magopeni has said the looming retrenchments at the public broadcaster cannot be avoided as the wage bill has to be reduced.

This month, 13 employees who are believed to have been irregularly appointed were dismissed. The public broadcaster says they were appointed without following proper processes when former Chief Operating Officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, was at the helm of the organisation.

The SABC is currently at loggerheads with workers’ representatives over its plans to retrench around 600 permanent staff members. The broadcaster says according to the Labour Relations Act, it is now at liberty to unilaterally implement the contemplated retrenchments after failed talks facilitated by the CCMA.

Unions react

Unions representatives say they are disappointed that the public broadcaster is going ahead with the retrenchments. The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has threatened to call a strike with fellow union BEMAWU if the SABC forges ahead with planned retrenchments.

CWU’s Nathan Bowes says they will also consult with their alliance partners in the ANC on the matter:

Du Buisson says: “Should the SABC proceed with its threat to implement the Section 189 process unilaterally, BEMAWU will not hesitate to bring an urgent application to stop the SABC. The SABC has made certain undertakings and there was an agreement that was done under the auspices of the CCMA and by law, they’re required to adhere to and honour that agreement.”

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