When the 2020 consultation process in terms of S189 started, the first facilitated meeting under the auspices of the CCMA could not proceed due to technical issues with the SABC’s equipment.
Also in that meeting not all parties were present.
On 7 August 2020 a bilateral meeting took place.
Previously it was agreed – as was confirmed by the SABC in this recording – that only after the structure was presented to the meeting, questions about the structure may be asked.
The structures by then was already presented to staff, parallel to the S189 process. We raised our concerns about the process, as structures cannot be presented in meetings to which we have not been invited to, and therefore have no idea what was discussed, agreed and presented.
The SABC agreed to follow a different route, which was to present rationale, then structure in the S189 meetings, and then allow for consulting parties to consult members, present (the latest) structures, not the ones sent which has changed, get input and mandate and return to the meeting to further consult. It was the understanding divisional heads would be available to clarify issues to staff, once we get to present and discuss structures with staff.
Purely from a logical point of view, why would everyone from labour have the same understanding, if this was not what was agreed?
Further recordings will be made available to confirm that structures presented to the S189 meeting on 12 and 16 October 2020 for the first time, differed from those that was presented to staff. The SABC explaining this difference to be that input from staff were taken into account.
The agreement was, as per the previous recording from the same meeting that after presentation of rationale and structure, AND WE HAVE AGREED ON THE STRUCTURE, we will further consult (in that meeting) as to how apply the skills audit in a fair way to redeploy staff, and then furthermore to consult on selection criteria.
We know now, this further consultation never happened.
Salaries of staff members of the SABC have been reported based on information obtained from the SABC’s Annual Report.
The average salary of a SABC employee has been calculated across the entire organisation, which included the millions per year taken home by executives.
What has been discounted from this mathematical model is the number of years of service of the average employee, which surely must be factored in when doing these kind of calculations. It cannot be that the writers and reporters of the salaries of SABC employees for one moment thought or believed that an employee who just entered a workplace will earn the same as someone being at an organisation for 35 years.
To therefore report that SABC employees earn hundreds of thousands of rands per month without taking factors like years of service, expertise, qualifications and alike into consideration, is simply a repeat of distortion of facts.
The entry level salary for an employee at the SABC is a mere R11 474 per month. The average salary for the lowest level employee is R11 924,25 per month.
The salary of a gardener on average is R5 375 per month.
An office administrator in the Broadcasting Industry earns R218 000 per annum.
The top respondents for the job title Office Administrator are from the companies Nedbank, Sanlam and FNB.
Reported salaries are highest at FNB where the average pay is R222,828. Other companies that offer high salaries for this role include Silica and Absa, earning around R204,401 and R194,283, respectively. EOH pays the lowest at around R127,992. Sanlam and Discovery Holdings also pay on the lower end of the scale, paying R130,000 and R131,800, respectively.
According to Salary Explorer, in 2017 the average annual salary in South Africa is R337,000 before taxes – or just over R28,000 a month.
The SABC is on record, saying most of its work is being done by people on scale code 401. (Page 66 of its presentation to staff). People on this level are mostly professional broadcasters and highly skilled staff.
The entry level salaries of the most important segment of the workforce, where according to the SABC most of the work are done, are more or less the same as what the average South African earned three years ago.
In an attempt to blame staff for the financial situation the SABC finds itself in, the COO, Ian Plaatjes publicly said, when the Board asked employees to return the 6% increase, staff refused.
According to the SABC’s financial statements, apart from the 16% more the chairperson of the Board took home, the Executives received a 5% increase.
This is how the TCTC (Total Cost to Company) is distributed. Pretty obvious where the problem lies.
It is also pretty obvious what happened to staff levels at the SABC since 2013.
The important question that maybe must be asked is, did the Board also demand from its Executives to return the 5% increase?
On 7 August 2020, in a bilateral meeting with the SABC, the GE: Human Resources, Dr. Mosia proposed, and we AGREED that:
There is duty to redeploy staff first, before issuing dismissal letters.
The bilateral forum will collectively develop a proposal (here, which means in the meeting) how to best populate the structure in a fair and equitable manner.
This never happened.
Instead of redeploying staff, they were dismissed.
Instead of collectively developed a proposal as to how to populate the structure and how to redeploy staff, Ian Plaatjes announced on 16 October 2020 he is terminating the consultation process, and will not further consult.
Now, with a strike in progress and a pending urgent court application, with massive reputational damage to the SABC, it was agreed to further consult.
What consequence management will follow?
In the same meeting when unions attempt to discuss the structure, they were stopped by the GE:HR and told to NOT discuss structure in the meeting, but only do so after the structure has been presented.
It is common cause the structure was only presented for the first time on 12 October 2020 and then on the 16th of October, when Plaatjes decided to stop the consultation process.
The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has requested Paliament’s urgent intervention in “a growing crisis at the SABC that appears to be spiralling out of control.”
In a letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise Chief Whip Narend Singh moved for an urgent debate in Parliament to discuss what it called a “SABC Board at odds with itself” and “imminent retrenchments of hundreds of staff”.
The letter, dated 20 November 2020 seen by BEMAWU, has invoked Rule 130 (1) that deals with urgent matters of national importance.
BEMAWU is calling on all political parties to follow suit.
The Board’s decision to suspend the S189 process for seven days is aimed at derailing the multi-pronged action in progress and is not a genuine attempt to address the lack of consultation and resistance to laying off workers at the SABC.
The SABC is currently faced with an urgent interdict application in the Labour Court set down for next Friday on the urgent roll and strike action by the CWU, with full tactical support by BEMAWU.
The en-masse dismissal of workers at the SABC is also opposed by political parties, trade union federations and public organisations.
Dismissal letters were issued this week, terminating the services of more than 400 workers employees by 31 December 2020.
The SABC issued S189 notices on 18 June 2020 after it terminated its S189 process in 2019, saying it will not renew the S189 notices (process).
BEMAWU will however NOT remove its urgent application from the Labour Court roll.
Suspending the S189 process for seven days, but not withdrawing the termination letters means nothing. In fact, it is more prejudicial to employees, as the clock is ticking towards 31 December 2020.
The SABC has issued termination letters after a defective consultation process. Suspending the process for seven days does not cure the defective process and its misplaced rationale.
All termination letters must be withdrawn and the SABC must return to the table to properly and meaningfully consult.
The SABC must first fix what they have identified as wrong before deciding to embark on a S189 process.
The SABC has cited the following reasons for its decision to embark on the S189 process:
1. The SABC not having an adequate online value proposition;
2. Poor sales effectiveness (due to not having am adequate online value proposition;
3. Ineffective commercial product packaging;
4. Old, uncompetitive pricing models;
5. Inadequate technology infrastructure;
6. A lack of requisite skills;
7. Inefficient business processes
In its paragraph 3 of its S189 Notice issued on 18 June 2020, the SABC said “As a result of the reasons outlined above, the SABC is currently contemplating a process of restructuring…”
In its proposed structure, the SABC has INCREASED positions on Scale code 120, that have not been there before, in divisions like Commercial Enterprise.
In other divisions the SABC opted to convert permanent staff to freelancers, and/or outsourcing (S197).
This is an artificial and misleading exercise.
By converting permanent employees to freelancers and outsourcing functions, does not reduce the headcount, and cost. It simply moves it from the permanent staff salary account to a different expense account.
It furthermore deprives employees from benefits they have worked for for their entire lives.
We know the SABC has been exploiting freelance workers for many years. By replacing its permanent staff with freelancers is doing so even more.
Freelancers does not have benefits like leave, sick leave, UIF, Medical Aid and Pension. It means being sick or going on leave is on a no-pay basis.
THE SABC BOARD SUSPENDS THE S189 PROCESS FOR 7 DAYS
Johannesburg, Friday, 20 November 2020-The Board of the SABC would like to announce that it will suspend the S189 process for a period of 7 days. This will allow all stakeholders to further engage and explore further options in an effort to ensure the financial sustainability of the SABC.
The SABC is committed to meaningfully engaging with all its stakeholders as it continues to make the Corporation financially sustainable in order to fulfil its public mandate.
TV Personality and Presenter Palesa Chubisi has been reinstated by the Labour Court.
The court found merit in the applicant’s contentions that “the SABC’s decision was in bad faith, malicious and intended to humiliate and tarnish her reputation. If not, how does the SABC explain its conduct of conveying its decision to the applicant when she was in the middle of a live show? No explanation was proffered as to the reason the decision could not have been conveyed to her before or after the show. Without making any findings or conclusions on this issue, one cannot think of a more humiliating and embarrassing experience as a TV personality, other than being informed of a non-recognition of one’s employment contract during a live show on national television.
The Labour Court also came down hard on the SABC, criticising it for making “incorrect choices, and acted unlawfully and callously” and punished it with a cost order.
Judge Edwin Tlhotlhalemaje referred to the “sound advice of Moshoana J in South African Broadcasting Corporation (Soc) Ltd v Keevy and Others” which was ignored by the SABC and the clear remedial actions suggested by the Public Protector.
BEMAWU has repeatedly warned and cautioned the SABC to take heed of the advice given by the Labour Court in the SABC v Keevy and others matter and to NOT proceed to terminate the contracts of employees allegedly irregularly appointed.
This was ignored.
Consequence management must now be applied. Most certainly whoever took the decision to dismiss Ms Palesa and others must be held accountable for their decisions.
Employees received letters stating the SABC no longer recognised their employment contracts and the SABC unceremoniously sent them packing.
Judge Tlhotlhalemaje in his judgement found that the concept of ‘non-recognition of a contract of employment’ is unknown, unheard of, and foreign within the context of the LRA, or any other legislative provisions one can think of. In my view, it is a meaningless if not a vague concept.”
The Judge continued: ” The starting point is that nowhere in her report did the Public Protector speak of ‘non-recognition of the employment contract’. In fact, four alternative remedial actions were recommended by the Public Protector and the SABC, despite alleging that it had implemented them, chose an easier option, from which the question of unlawfulness and invalidity comes up.”
“Second, how does the SABC explain the easy option it took, when the Public Protector had guided it on how to deal with the applicant’s appointment. There is no reasonable explanation why the SABC could not have invoked the provisions of the LRA as suggested by the Public Protector to terminate the contract of employment, or why it did not look at its own policies as to how best to deal with the matter.
“It nonetheless gets worse for the SABC in that it never occurred to it that the applicant’s initial appointment at ‘Lesedi FM’ was above board. Nothing was said about that contract having been terminated. The ‘non-recognition of the employment contract’ which was based on the appointment from April 2016, nonetheless appeared to be for a clean sweep, with no regard to the legitimacy of her previous position. Clearly this leads to the invalidity of the decision, which in essence implies that there was never a dismissal within the confines of section 186(1) of the LRA in the first place.”
The SABC is on the same route with the S189 process.