14 March 2014

South Africa: Joint Statement On the SABC - CWU and Bemawu

press release

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) and Broadcast, Electronic Media and Allied Workers Union (BEMAWU) at the SABC are demanding that the Minister of Communications urgently order a proper investigation and decisive action into the allegations made by the Public Protector in her report titled "When governance and ethics fail" which has implicated members of the board, executives of the SABC and senior management in, inter alia, maladministration and abuse of power.

We in particular demand that action be taken against individuals who according to the Public Protector admitted to wrongdoing. We demand that all appointments that were made without advertising the positions be reversed and disciplinary action be taken against individuals responsible for same. We request the urgent intervention of a competent management team to take over the management of the SABC as the current management has failed to do so. Currently the SABC is without a CEO, which is unacceptable, irresponsible and a transgression of the Broadcasting Act.

We also demand a full and proper investigation of the allegations made by PriceWaterhouseCoopers Auditors in respect of the skills audit done on SABC top and executive management. We believe the finding was that, with the exception of a few, the executive of the SABC was found to be seriously lacking in particular in respect of strategic skills which at their level are vital for any organisation to exist.

The SABC is in a sorry state, with repeats being broadcast, even on news, and millions of rands are pushed into new projects like the 24 hour news channel broadcast on a not free to air channel and only accessible to the few privileged who can afford DSTV subscription.

A dispute has already been filed on behalf of our members in middle management in respect of outstanding bonus payments, which has been outstanding for a long time now, and we simply do not believe the promises to resolve these issues any longer. The SABC's middle management is therefore at war with top management in respect of performance bonuses. Every year top management has ensured they take home a lucrative bonus that does not correlate with the performance of the SABC.

Furthermore, organised labour at this corporation are frustrated by the indecisiveness by the executives in executing their duties, particularly when it comes to implementing decisions amicably arrived at between parties in various forums. The case in point is the snail pace approach adopted by the management in resolving the long outstanding salary disparities/ anomalies where workers in the same grade are paid differently despite doing the same work i.e. The principle of " equal pay for equal work of the same value" as adopted by member states in the IOL (International Labour Organisation).

A sub-committee of the UN (United Nations) is responsible for coordinating the implementation of labour standards across all member countries. This matter was on the table and resolved finally in the wage negotiations of 2010/2011 but to date is not fully implemented, this includes but not limited the 1st phase of this project, which was characterised by omissions of more than 250 or so of possible beneficiaries in the resolution of salary anomalies.

Also another case in point is the ineptitude in implementing the "Leave Encashment Policy" which has been in place for years, which allows workers with too much leave to credit, to encash leave, as an abler to minimise the leave liability to the employer, but the previous board took a unilateral decision to place moratorium on this policy, and unions were in pains to get this policy back on track to no avail, due to the interference by the acting CFO, who was severely challenged by unions at the recent company forum to refrain from tempering with conditions of employment of members of organised labour and employees of the SABC at large.

This "Doubting Thomas" syndrome by the current executives corroborates the recent finding by PriceWaterhouseCoopers on the Skills Audit report pertaining to lack of strategic thinking and indecisiveness by them to implement decisions on strategic and operational matters and as such, organised labour is calling for the implementation of recommendations arising of both the Skills Audit and Public Protector respectively. The unions are further calling to the Board to suspend all those executives found to be responsible for abuse of power and maladministration, so as to prevent manipulation and tampering with evidence pointing to their involvement with immediate effect pending the outcome of due process for final adjudication by the relevant institutions of law including but not limited to the internal disciplinary process that must ensue as a result of these findings and resultant recommendations thereof.

Organised labour has vowed to mobilise members to take whatever action deemed appropriate to back up these demands, this include taking up industrial action and other forms of engagement with relevant authorities.

The board of directors is further called to fill all acting positions at executive level without delay, by employees of the SABC capable of managing these departments. Lastly it has been brought to the attention of organised labour that one (1) board member is to act in the position of Group Chief Executive Officer (G.C.E.O) and if this is confirmed, unions will fiercely oppose such a move as it will be in conflict with the corporate governance principles, since board members are not employees of the SABC, as such do not qualify to fill positions of executives in whatever capacity.

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