Kindly find our response to the SABC’s letter to all staff IN BLUE.
“Following the update issued last week on the Section 189 process, I can report that the 7th CCMA facilitated session was concluded on Friday 16 October 2020.”
The SABC presented its structures to the consulting parties at this session, and the consulting parties, on behalf of members questioned the structures so presented. We were still in process of questioning the proposed structures. The previous consultation meetings were fully utilised to question the rationale of the SABC intensively to save member’s jobs and to establish, for ourselves there really exist a rationale to dismiss 600 staff members. We are of the strong view there is not, and this is simply used to make the books look better. A detailed report will be provided in respect hereof and a virtual meeting will be scheduled still this week. In fact, if there was any delay, the delay came as a result of information that is still outstanding like the detailed legal cost the SABC has spent.
“We fully appreciate that the delay in concluding the Section 189 process is causing anxiety and uncertainty to all SABC employees and stakeholders. However, we had to ensure that we conduct this process in full compliance with the LRA and in the interest of the SABC and its employees.”
We deny that the consultation was conducted in full compliance with the LRA. The parties were busy with consultation, and due to the fact that the SABC was properly and intensely questioned about its rationale and structures, in particular the structures where the SABC has increased senior management levels instead of decreasing it, the SABC terminated the consultation process via meetings. The Act requires the employer to fully and properly consult, and does not prescribe an employer must issue termination letters after 60 days. The 60 days is simply a safety measure built into the Act to prevent the employer to issue termination notices before the 60 days have lapsed. Even if consultations were concluded on day 2, for example the employer is barred from issuing termination letters. The 60 days therefore is a prohibition to issue notices, not permission to do so.
“Despite the prescripts of the LRA Section 189 only requiring four (4) consultation sessions in 60 days, the SABC has in good faith, exceeded the prescripts of the Act, and completed sixteen (16) sessions in 120 days: nine (9) bilateral sessions between the consulting parties and the SABC management and seven (7) CCMA facilitated sessions.”
The Act prescribes that parties must properly consult, which has not happened. The Act prescribes minimum consultations, and is not putting a limit to the number of consultations.
“On 6 October 2020, during the 5th CCMA facilitated session, the Commissioners concluded that the parties were not making any progress and each party was at liberty to exercise their rights. The consulting parties requested for another session, and although Management afforded them another two (2) sessions, it was clear that after the 7th CCMA facilitated session, the parties had failed to reach consensus, after four (4) months of consulting.”
Parties cannot reach consensus on issues not yet presented. At the time the SABC has not presented its structure as we were still busy with the rationale. Both Commissioners on Friday expressed their disappointment about the SABC’s decision to abandon the consultation process. Friday’s meeting wat scheduled up to17:00. Some of the parties indicated they had other commitments after 17:00, the agreed time for the meeting to end. The SABC abandoned the process when parties indicated they were not able to proceed after 17:00. Mr Plaatjes was of the view on other days we consulted beyond the agreed time, which we did, but it was simply not possible of Friday. Immediately thereafter he decided that no further meetings will take place.
“According to the Labour Relations Act, the SABC is now at liberty to unilaterally implement the contemplated redundancies/retrenchments having considered any submissions that may still be made in writing by Organized Labour and non-unionized employees.”
We have been invited to make submissions, which we will make as soon as we have received the presentation that was done by the SABC on Friday, and feedback the information to you. If the SABC wants to implement anything unilaterally, they will have to face the legal consequences of same.
“Although the Section 189 process has been concluded and the consulting parties have failed to make any alternative submissions, in the interest of the possible affected employees, the SABC will afford the consulting parties one last chance to make a written submission regarding proposals to the structure or alternatives thereof.”
We have never been invited, before Friday to make submissions, as we have only seen the last structures on Friday. It is blatantly false to allege we have failed to make proposals. We were only informed on Friday the SABC will no longer meet with us, and we can make proposals if we so wish.
“The way forward will be communicated after it is approved by the necessary governance structures.”
It is clear the SABC has already decided what they want to do, and whatever submissions we will make, will not be considered. We will nevertheless make proposals.
“I wish to thank you for your patience and understanding in this regard. We look forward to finally concluding this process, in the interest of all SABC employees.”
Confirmation of Time Lines by Plaatjes,
As soon as we receive the proposed structures, (of which changed between Tuesday and Friday), we will forward same to you.
Be assured of our commitment to continue to protect jobs at the SABC, and to ensure no-one will loose their jobs if there is no other alternative.