MWASA on SABC and freelance contracts


The Media Workers Association of South Africa (MWASA) has issued the following statement regarding recent reports of offers to extend contracts for select groups of freelance workers at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). The statement reads: These reports have sparked a surge in ‘reasonable expectation’ amongst excluded groups who believe they are equally entitled to an extension of a similar dispensation.

MWASA has been inundated with calls from various individuals and groups that believe ‘their cause is just’ and should be addressed urgently. Some of the individuals had worked for the SABC before and were casualties of various restructuring projects of successive years past.

MWASA is also collating a dossier of complaints following a December 2012 release of a report by a joint task team tasked with overseeing the addressing of salary disparities and designation anomalies across the SABC’s bargaining unit (sc:407-300). This report is criticised for being scant on detail as to its mandate, scope, terms of reference, methodology and its actual findings. Many staff members have received ad hoc adjustments to their salaries where some only got designation or scale code reviews with no financial benefit. This has caused serious staff unhappiness and most line managers seem to have no clue how to handle complaints and levels of anger. There seems to have been very little if any expert knowledge roped into the JTT and it is difficult to work out any method followed in carrying out the work on this project.

MWASA’s fear is that the SABC is set up for serious financial ruin beyond its current cash-strapped status. We are speculatively expecting the staff complement to swell by up to +300% if the estimation of freelance to permanent staff ratio is conservatively pegged at 1:3. The R2bn wage bill will triple commensurately and the SABC may return to the pre-1994 staffing levels in one fell swoop. To survive this challenge the SABC will have to retrench. With an inflated staff complement, HR and related costs including litigation will be significantly higher.

We are concerned that corporate decision-making has completely failed and personality-cults have instead taken root with no regard for standing protocols. This level of adverse risk could have been avoided had the SABC continued to work with MWASA on the Turnaround Strategy and Corporate Plan development processes which were fashioned with the assistance of the CCMA in December 2010. Regrettably the SABC thought it wise to derecognise MWASA and to “stabilise’ the workforce by excluding MWASA from all social dialogue platforms within the Corporation. MWASA was derecognised on 4 August 2011 for insisting on following an agreed protocol regarding the development of a sustainable, participatory restructuring programme.

MWASA intends to engage with the SABC on our findings once all information including concerns from both our members as well as the freelance workers will have been collated. We are concerned as well that the SABC had taken high-impact decisions without any basis in fact or law and only post-fact intends to run an audit and impact assessment. The executive and board of the SABC have displayed a serious lack of conscientious leadership and management. Instead there is a growing penchant for arrogant showmanship while plunging the corporation deeper into an abyss. This cannot be allowed to continue unchallenged.


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