Cape Town – The Communication Workers Union has given the SABC board and management until Thursday evening to abandon its current plans to retrench hundreds of employees or face a blackout on Friday.
This comes as the union plans to embark on a national strike across branches of the public broadcaster, with the main strike action at its headquarters in Auckland Park.
SABC board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini had on Wednesday night told Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications the plan to retrench around 400 employees was going ahead as failure to implement them could contribute to the collapse of the broadcaster.
Makhathini and the SABC leadership have been adamant the broadcaster was challenged with many redundant employees who had to be fired since they did not fit into the new newsroom structure, which workers say was hatched behind their backs.
CWU general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala said the union was demanding the SABC retract letters of dismissals that had been issued and abandon the plan or face the wrath of workers.
“Our action of the shutdown will continue into the following week and we will review our action and impact next week Wednesday 25th of November 2020 and inform the public of our second phase of action should the management remain stubborn,” Tshabalala said.
Tshabalala said the CWU was also calling for the disbandment of the current board and for the SABC to be placed under administration. The union accused it of dishonesty regarding its new corporate plan and reasons for the restructuring, which they said would hollow out the broadcaster’s capacity and compromise its mandate.
“After this structural erosion, the SABC will have to rely on the private sector to provide content. This means they will only buy content that is financially viable. This means that SABC is now officially abandoning its core mandate as a public broadcaster,” he said.
The SABC board was expected to meet on Thursday where the restructuring plan and planned strike were expected to be discussed.