Thursday, July 9, 2009

SABC workers set to down tools

Mail & Guardian Online

Business | Labour

SABC workers set to down tools

Hundreds of South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) workers are expected to down tools during lunchtime on Wednesday over a wage dispute.

While the Media Workers' Association of South Africa earlier said it was expecting all of its 600 workers to take part, it is understood scores more disgruntled employees will turn out.

The Communication Workers' Union also said it expected hundreds to join. While the third labour union, the Broadcast, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers' Union, said it would act in solidarity with the other unions.

The public broadcaster has been dogged by controversy for several months due to what the unions say is the misuse of millions of rand.

According to reports, the SABC has requested a R2-billion bailout from the government

In a move to alleviate the crisis, the corporation has cut the salaries of several employees and restructured the rates of several news and current affairs presenters.

In an attempt to woo disgruntled employees, the unions on Tuesday posted notices at the entrances to the radio and TV centres to attract a good showing for the lunchtime picket. (Should SASFED and affiliated organisations show solidarity ?)

But it remains to be seen whether the SABC's freelance staff participate, as some fear not having their contracts renewed or not being scheduled for news and other programming.

The unions went to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration when the SABC revised a 12,2% multi-term pay offer it was supposed to have implemented in April, to 8,5%.

The labour court in Johannesburg dismissed a bid by the SABC last week to stop its workers from striking.

To further exacerbate the situation, the unions have warned that if the SABC does not budge, even after Wednesday's action, they will stay away completely, starting on July 13. -- Sapa

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