THE Broadcast, Electronic Media and Allied Workers Union (BEMAWU) has threatened legal action and a ‘full-blown strike’ if the financially troubled SABC goes ahead with the retrenchment of 600 employees.
A letter sent to all members of staff on October 19th says that formal discussions under the country’s Labour Relations Act have been concluded and that SABC was now “at liberty to unilaterally implement the contemplated retrenchments”.
SABC head of human resources Mojaki Mosia sent a letter to staff saying the Labour Relations Act empowered the SABC to “unilaterally implement the contemplated redundancies/retrenchments, having considered any submissions that may still be made in writing by Organised Labour and non-unionised employees”.
Seven consultation sessions took place under the auspices of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration in compliance with Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act.
While 600 employees are expected to be affected by retrenchments, the SABC has been under pressure to drive down its costs as a host of other state-owned entities wait for some or other form of financial assistance from the state.
“We deny that the consultation was conducted in full compliance with the LRA,” BEMAWU said in a statement.
“The Act requires the employer to fully and properly consult, and does not prescribe an employer must issue termination letters after 60 days.”
Bemawu’s Hannes du Buisson said on Tuesday that the union was disappointed in the SABC’s turnabout attitude since progress was made in negotiations held at the CCMA.
“There was an expression of regret from the CCMA as well that the SABC has decided to withdraw from the consultation process for an apparent no reason,” according to Du Buisson.
Du Buisson said the union members are gearing up for the fight if the national broadcaster decides to proceed with retrenching workers.
“We will surely defend that, there are two options open for SABC employees. One is to embark on a strike and the other one is to approach the labour court on an urgent base as consultation has not completed,” said Du Buisson.
(COMPILED BY INSIDE POLITICS STAFF)