The SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has defended its possible retrenchment plans, saying it needs to reduce its salary bill by R700 million.
SABC has come under fire following its announcement last week that it would begin retrenchment consultations that could affect approximately 600 jobs.
During a meeting with Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications on Wednesday, SABC COO Ian Plaatjies said the state broadcaster was merely implementing recommendations from the National Treasury’s Government Technical Advisory Centre (GTAC).
“We are not executing on a strategy that we have developed; this is a strategy that was developed by GTAC. We are executing on a compliance issue that has been given to us by the National Treasury. This is a precondition for the bailout that we have received, that we should engage in staff reductions,” Plaatjies said.
The government availed a R2.1 billion bailout to SABC in October last year after meeting certain conditions, including developing a turnaround strategy. It received an additional R1.1 billion in March.
R1b from govt
SABC group CEO Madoda Mxakwe said according to their forecasts, the broadcaster will pay employees and freelancers more than R200 million per month this year.
He added, “What is required for us to ensure that we can break even is a R700m reduction in employee compensation. The SABC cannot afford the monthly bill that is huge.
“If we are told not to go ahead with this process, there needs to be a commitment from government to give us at least R1 billion towards the salary bill.”
Deputy Minister of Communications Pinky Kekana, who also attended the meeting, however opposed the plans. “We are very clear [on] the issue of retrenchments, that we are not going to support it.”
Parties oppose retrenchments
Various political parties, including the governing African National Congress (ANC), SA Communist Party (SACP) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), has criticised the retrenchment plans.
“We call upon all employers in the country to be sensitive to the plight of workers and to avoid retrenchments at every cost. We similarly call on the management of SABC to avoid job losses and to ensure constructive engagements with the unions,” ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule said earlier this week.
In a statement, the EFF added, “The EFF rejects the ridiculous and narrow reasoning within the SABC that will add to retrenchments in South Africa which are spiralling out of control. Unions must oppose mediocrity that seeks to thrive at the expense of the livelihoods of 600 employees.”
The SABC has about 3,000 employees, with about 400 holding managerial positions. Mxakwe said the company spends around 40 cents out of every R1 on salaries.
At the same time, it spends only 23 percent on content acquisition, which Mxakwe said is its core business that brings in the most revenue.