SABC strike enters its second day

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SABC workers will remain on strike today after wage negotiations between management and union members ended in a deadlock last night.

Employees went on strike yesterday over a series of demands, including a 10% wage increase, a promise of no retrenchments, December bonuses and an investigation into the broadcaster’s protest policy.

The SABC board has not only refused to meet the salary hike demands, but has also issued a statement saying that the strike itself is illegal. The Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union (BEMAWU) and the Communication Workers’ Union have refuted this claim.

“Out lawyers have sent a letter to the SABC. We deny that the strike is unprotected. We intend to refer this letter on an urgent basis to the Labour Court for a declarative, so that the Labour Court can announce whether our strike is protected or not,” BEMAWU’s Hannes du Buisson told Eyewitness News.

Negotiations between the unions and the SABC’s management were held yesterday and into the night, but the two sides could not reach an agreement. The SABC board has essentially told the unions it doesn’t have enough money to meet their salary increase demands.

It’s no secret the national broadcaster is struggling. In a meeting between Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications and the Auditor General back in April, it was revealed that, under the leadership of CEO James Aguma and Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the SABC’s cash reserves had been severely drained.

DA and Portfolio Committee member, Phumzile van Damme said at the time that this put the SABC in real danger of  “being forced to cease operations, unable to pay its staff and meet its obligations.”