Trade union Bemawu has now instructed its lawyers to proceed with an urgent application in the Labour Court to force the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to return to the negotiating table.

The application is designed to pre-empt planned dismissals at the public broadcaster. The union wrote to the public broadcaster last week, demanding that it confirm in writing that it will return to the consultative process with immediate effect and that no members affiliated to Bemawu will be dismissed.

The union believes the employer has not consulted sufficiently on its restructuring plans, which includes retrenching around 600 permanent staff and more than 1000 freelancers.

Bemawu President, Hannes du Buisson says they received the SABC‘s response on Monday afternoon.

“The SABC responded, dismissing our request to return to the table to further consult on the issues. We have now given our lawyers instructions to proceed, bringing an urgent application in the Labour Court. The application will be to force them to consult with us because we believe that they’ve not properly consulted, and until a proper consultation process has taken place, that there should be no dismissals.”

Possible protest

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) General Secretary, Aubrey Tshabalala, says the union’s members are planning on embarking on industrial action.

“Absolutely, that is what we are looking into. We have been having discussions and we can confirm, as labour movement, that we need to take industrial action. The SABC management refused to engage in discussions. They presented a corporate plan which was questioned, but they don’t respond to the questions that have been raised. In the new structure that they presented, it appears that it is no longer a cutting cost exercise, but you can see that the structure will be bloated at the top and the staff are at entry-level.”

Tshabalala says the SABC refuses to engage on the matter:

EFF against planned retrenchments

In a briefing earlier, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema said the public broadcaster needs to be seen to be protecting its workers.

He said the public broadcaster should not be used to settle political factional battles.

“We don’t want that. We oppose that and we are with the workers. They must find the money and finance that SABC to work properly and it must work objectively, particularly SABC News, and not create an ENCA light as we see now.”

EFF leader Julius Malema briefs the media:

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