SABC says looming strike won’t disrupt ANC’s coverage


Zodidi Mhlana

JOHANNESBURG- The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) says that measures are in place to ensure there will be no disruptions to its coverage of the ANC elective conference as unions down tools this week.

Trade unions, the Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) and Communications Workers Union (CWU) are threatening that their members will be embarking on a strike on Thursday. Wage talks between the unions and the employer collapsed on Monday. The ANC conference starts at the weekend.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said: “we will do everything possible to make sure that we continue with the broadcast of the ANC conference because the strike was obviously structured to coincide with the conference. We have put plans together. We will deliver on the normal radio and TV programmes. We cater for the majority of South Africans, the poorest of the poor. We are worried about people who have no other options to get new information,” Kganyago said.

Both unions have demanded a 10% increase, with CWU demanding that the increment should be backdated by nine months. But the SABC was willing to backdate by six months.

 “Unfortunately, we cannot afford to it. We don’t have the money. We have moved from 0% to 4.5%. Looking at the circumstances that we find ourselves in, we can’t afford anything beyond that,” Kganyago said.

He said the public broadcaster was still waiting for a R3b government guarantee from the national Treasure.

The broadcaster has been in a perilous financial position for months now.

“Our financial situation has not changed much except, to say that we were trying to increase our revenue basis relating to other financial revenue stream. We are trying to cut on cost and minimizing travels We are owing a lot of companies including SENTECH. If the company was not cooperating with us, we will be going out on air as they are helping us with the transmission,” he said.

However, CWU’s General Secretary Aubrey Tshabalala described SABC’s offer as an insult on Tuesday.

“There will a complete shutdown and there’s a possibility that independent workers will join in. Initially, we demanded 15% and have dropped to 10%. We will re-open talks when they review their offer,” he said.

Tshabalala said that SABC’s finances should not affect their members.

“Why should they involve workers in their problems? They must stop insulting us,” he added.