SABC extends suspension of retrenchments until end of December

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The SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has extended the suspension of its retrenchment process until the end of December 2020.

In a statement on Tuesday, the state broadcaster said the decision will “enable additional consultations” and was reached following consultations with labour unions and other stakeholders.

Review of proposed structures

“During this period, the SABC management and its employees will jointly work with all participating parties to further review the proposed structures with the intent to ensure that they are optimal and enabling to achieve the public mandate of the SABC,” the company said.

The section 189 process has sparked strong opposition from various groups, including unions, political parties such as the ANC, staff and even the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies.

Around 400 staff members could be affected. The broadcaster initially announced a seven-day suspension of the process last week to allow for further consultations.

SABC and the parties involved will now use the extended period “for further mediated sessions with an independent labour expert to explore alternative options to minimising the impact of retrenchments.”

Retrenchments ‘not terminated’

However, the company insisted that the retrenchment process is not terminated, adding that it remains committed to a transparent and fair process.

On Monday, Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, her deputy Pinky Kekana and Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi met the SABC board.

They implored the board and management to explore all available “opportunities” before proceeding with retrenchments, which they said should be a last resort.

“A functional SABC is in the interest of all South Africans. I am therefore determined to support efforts aimed at finding an amicable solution to the problem,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said.

Last week, SABC staff held a protest against the planned retrenchments. Other groups, including the ANC Youth League, also held protests.

The proposed retrenchments are part of SABC’s turnaround plan, which the board hopes would steer the company towards financial sustainability.

The broadcaster reported a loss of R511 million in its financial year ending March 2020. Its total revenue also declined by 12 percent year-on-year to R5.7 billion.

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