Tuesday, June 16, 2009

SABC and unions locked in talks

The SABC and a number of unions were meeting at the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in Johannesburg today to try to resolve a pay dispute.
"They are still in the hearing at the moment," said CCMA official Danielle Martin.

Communication Workers Union (CWU) negotiator Vulture Ntukuli said the dispute revolved around the national broadcaster’s revision of a pay agreement, in which it cited its financial problems and the global economic climate.

They were to have implemented a multi-term agreement where union members would receive a 12.2 percent increase.

But the agreement was not implemented and it appeared that 2.2 percent would also have been shaved off it.

Ntukuli said they had tried to resolve the matter internally, asking for meetings, but eventually, after a letter to acting chief executive officer Gab Mampone they were told that the SABC would invoke an escape clause that was built into the agreement.

In terms of the escape clause, they could reopen negotiations if the consumer price index (CPI) which indicates the inflation rate, dropped below 4 percent or went above 8 percent. Inflation came in at 8.4 percent for April.

The CWU is also upset that this decision was taken without discussing it with the unions first.

Two other unions - the Broadcast, Electronic Media and Allied Workers’ Union and the Media Workers Association of SA - were reportedly also participating in the CCMA meeting, but were not immediately available for comment.

Meanwhile, Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda and President Jacob Zuma met over the weekend to discuss the crisis with the SABC’s board.

This came after Nyanda informed the remaining four board members at a meeting on Friday that because they did not make a quorum they could not make executive decisions. They were also told that the appointment of Ashwin Trikamjee as interim chairman did not count as only Zuma could make an appointment.

At the same time, the communications department and the Treasury are discussing the company’s financial crisis.

Mampone has said that they will need at least R2 billion to solve their financial problems.


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