On Thursday, 4 August the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) issued a statement saying that it had terminated the collective agreement between itself and the Media Workers Association of South Africa (MWASA). The latter, together with other trade unions and industry organisations, has been attempting to consult with the crisis-ridden SABC on its Turnaround Strategy and to counter its plan to retrench hundreds of staff.
According to the SABC statement, the broadcaster terminated its agreement with MWASA on the basis that MWASA is not compliant with clause 6, which states that the said union needs to have 20% or more of the employees employed by the SABC in the bargaining unit to enjoy organisational right.
In response MWASA has issued the following initial statement:
1. The Media Workers’ Association of South Africa is appalled and dismayed but not in the least surprised at the level to which the SABC would stoop to present a semblance of opposition to MWASA programmes.
2. We unequivocally state that the management of the public broadcaster, SABC is again deliberately misrepresenting facts common to both MWASA and the Corporation.
3. MWASA and the SABC (represented by Group Employee Relations managers K. Mosweu and T. Lesala respectively) had in the first quarter of 2011 agreed with MWASA that the threshold for all three unions was set at 500 members per union.
4. The references in the SABC-MWASA Collective Agreement to 20% for organisational and 25% for bargaining rights were therefore dropped as a standard measure of representation within the bargaining unit which comprises scale codes 300 to 409.
5. The SABC and MWASA continued to conclude a wage agreement effective July 2011 on these agreed terms.
6. The said wage agreement effective 2011/12 requires MWASA to participate in a Task Team which is to conclude outstanding matters relating to the 2011/2 wage agreement. MWASA was earlier invited to a meeting in this regard scheduled for the 10th August 2011 and we agreed to the point where our delegates were issued with leave to attend.
7. We believe that the refusal by MWASA to participate in a follow-up meeting 11th and 12th August 2011, apparently to discuss the Framework of Engagement Agreement and Turnaround Strategy was the straw that broke the feeble camels’ back. It is convenient now to revisit the threshold issue though we contend the SABC is suffering selective amnesia around the matter?
8. It is public knowledge that MWASA has consistently argued that the SABC had not consulted as required by the LRA on matters relating to and central to the Turnaround Strategy, hence the recent failure by the Corporation to retrench 800 of its employees over the next two-years.
9. The SABC is aware that the matter was scheduled for the 3rd August 2011 but “the hand of God’ the Arbitration hearing was cancelled and moved to the 23rd August 2011 by the CCMA which has thus far not provided any explanation of the decision taken without at least consulting with MWASA, the Applicant I this case.
10. Recently, MWASA argued that the Mpumalanga SABC rented offices were not fit for human habitation and we provided substantiation to the extent that SABC executive Hlaudi Motsoeneng went on August 4, 2011 to verify for the Corporation and we are vindicated.
11. These are not “dirty tricks’ but acts of desperation. The SABC is aware that MWASA had stated over and over that even if we have one member left at the Corporation we will never resist the ever present temptation to speak truth within the corridors of the SABC. Censorship by any guise will not work in an open democracy!
12. The Law recognises us as a registered trade union, even if the SABC may wish for the contrary, and as such we are not fearful that we will be unable to grow our membership and challenge the SABC where needs be.
13. All pending cases will be addressed accordingly and we are convinced the relations at least on the part of the misguided SABC will be reinstated.
14. We will be providing a full response to the SABC’s correspondence carrying these tidings of their wish for our annihilation and demise. We will not cooperate and collaborate around unprincipled arrangements and we shall continue to strive for meaningful change in the management of the affairs of the SABC.