Hikes bloated SABC pay bill

Public broadcaster presses ahead with plan to slash jobs

SABC Group CEO Madoda Mxakwe has revealed that the previous management of the public broadcaster unlawfully and irregularly promoted people and increased their salaries.

In a leaked notice to staff, Mxakwe said this had bloated the management structure of the organisation and inflated the salary bill.

Mxakwe sent out the leer this week to inform staff that the state-owned enterprise was embarking on a restructuring process that would result in the retrenchment of 600 workers.

Sunday World reported last week that the cash-strapped public broadcaster’s management and board had agreed to embark on a restructuring process that would see the organisation’s salary bill cut by R700-million.

On Thursday, the SABC confirmed it intended to retrench 600 workers. “It has been discovered that under the auspices of the erstwhile management of the SABC, there have been many instances of unlawful and irregular promotions and salary increases afforded to employees, resulting in an inflated remuneration cost of employees whose salaries are not commensurate to the positions they occupy,” Mxwakwe said.

“The SABC’s preliminary view is that its current management structure is inflated having regard to its new operational and business requirements, and that the current structure does not result in the SABC attaining sufficient efficiencies that allow it to operate optimally.”

He said they had further resolved to end contracts with about 1 200 freelance employees. Mxakwe noted that they were going to consult the organisation’s 3 011 employees as part of the process to cut jobs.

Communications Workers Union general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala said the union would engage the government to intervene and stop the retrenchments.

He said the union had met the SABC last week and there was no indication of cutting down the workforce. They only spoke about the progress in the skills audit process.

“It is important to mention the skills audit because it was an undertaking by both parties [labour and SABC] when [the SABC] abandoned the section 189 process in 2018. The parties agreed that the skills audit will assist to verify the kind of talent we have; also to red flag any redundancy in some quarters and in areas where there’s more personnel required,” Tshabalala said.

The Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) threatened to urgently approach the Labour Court to stop the planned retrenchments by the public broadcaster.

In January, the public broadcaster was forced to abandon its plans to invoke section 189 of the Labour Relations Act to retrench 981 permanent staff members and over 1 200 freelancers following the intervention of Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.

Bemawu president Hannes du Buisson said the workers were in the ring line due to poor leadership by the SABC management.

“Business processes are designed by management. Is the SABC really saying that for the past three years they, as management, were aware of these ineffective business processes, but they kept quiet until they served the retrenchment notice?” asked Du Buisson.

“Why did they, as management, not x those processes? Why did they allow for those inefficient business processes to lead to a situation where it necessitates an alleged need for retrenchments?”

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