SABC scraps plan to retrench staff

The SABC has scrapped plans to retrench thousands of employees and freelancers, after meeting with stakeholders on the matter.

The broadcaster said that, while everyone acknowledged the need to cut costs – and to reduce the group’s wage bill – it would explore other avenues to accomplish this.

At the end of October 2018, the SABC board announced its intention to retrench approximately 1,200 out of its 2,400 freelancers, while about 981 out of a total of 3,380 permanent employees were expected to be affected.

The plan was met with a combative minister of communications, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, soon after she was appointed to the position – and the process was suspended in December, pending further notice.

“In the interest of the SABC, its employees, key stakeholders and the South African public at large, the SABC has decided not to renew the notice to invoke section 189 of the LRA,” the group said on Thursday (31 January).

“This follows constructive and extensive engagements with various stakeholders, including the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications, Organised Labour and our own employees.”

“All our stakeholders acknowledge the need to review the increase in costs, including the compensation bill, hence the need to conduct a thorough skills audit and related activities.

“The outcome will provide the SABC with a fit-for-purpose structure, with clearly defined span of control, appropriate layers of management and appropriate skills and competencies for roles.

“This will ensure that the SABC meets its strategic objective of operating optimally and competitively in a digitised environment,” it said.

The SABC is struggling financially, and by all accounts is technically insolvent.

Ndabeni-Abrahams said that retrenchments were not an option, and was reportedly seeking time to negotiate a bailout from Treasury of about R3 billion.

Read: SABC will run out of money by March 2019: report

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SABC scraps plan to retrench staff