3 December 2018

South Africa: Low Staff Morale, Fear and Anger At the SABC

Photo: allafrica.com
Left: SABC headquarters in Sea Point. Right: National Assembly.

"I really do not understand why we are victims of bad leadership and a historically imbalanced structure of employment at the SABC."

These are the words of one of the employees at the financially ailing South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC, who told News24 that the company's decision to go ahead with retrenchments, was neither in the interests of the company nor its workers.

"They should do a qualification vet and rid those who only have Grade 12 but employed in key positions. We went to school to be here and it is unfair that we are expected to now bend over and let some managers, who have either none or an irrelevant qualification to what we have, probably remain," said the angry staffer.

The SABC recently announced that it plans to lay off almost a thousand of its permanent workers, and at least 1 200 freelancers.

That announcement however, was not welcomed by many, including affected unions and the Communications Ministry.

The broadcaster also said that by March 2019, it would not have enough money to pay salaries.

The wage bill amounts to almost half of the SABC's revenue, and not enough for operations and other costs are left after that expense has been levelled.

Another worker from one of the public broadcaster's regions also told News24 that he was scared and did not know how his life would turn out should he be retrenched.

"I have known nothing but the SABC for the past 12 years, and cannot even begin to think how I'll survive.. [It] won't be easy finding another radio show production job," he said.

Workers stressed and scared

Those who spoke to News24 on separate accounts, based at the SABC's headquarters in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, have cited that there is now low staff morale, and that most employees were stressed and not working at their optimum.

"We are looking for jobs, hoping for the best and be employed elsewhere before Day Zero comes," one journalist said.

"I just bought a house and car a year ago, and now this?.. instead of being scared or anything, I am actually more angry that our managers' misfortunes and ill-informed decisions will now affect my family's financial well-being," said another.

The SABC's spokesperson Neo Momodu said that the broadcaster would not be commenting.

The SABC previously announced that it already identified those who would be laid off.

It is however, not clear who those are and in which departments they work.

The SABC tabled in Parliament that the "vigorous restructuring" and retrenchments would result in cost savings close to R440m and added that it was already conducting other cost-cutting measures.

While considering retrenchments, on the broadcaster's recent audited books, the Auditor-General found an irregular expenditure capping at R5bn, accompanied by fruitless and wasteful spending of R230m.

At a press briefing in October, Group CEO Madoda Maxakwe said that there was simply no manner in which a complete organisation-wide restructuring and reduction of positions could be avoided.

He said that the consultation processes with unions and other stakeholders would be finalised by the end of January 2019, which would then possibly pave the way for notices of termination of employment to be issued by February.

New Communications minister wants no retrenchments

Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has now reportedly written a letter to the SABC board, demanding that the broadcaster instantly reconsider.

A board source, who reportedly attended a meeting with the minister, told the City Press, that Ndabeni-Abrahams had been "threatening and very aggressive, as was her deputy. It felt clear she was preparing for a constructive dismissal of the board".

At the same time, the Communications Workers Union (CWU) and the Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) said that they were consulting with workers and contemplating a shutdown and a later strike to force the SABC to find alternative ways of cutting costs.

Source: <b>News24</b>

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