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SABC workers want more lunch money

2012-05-16 13:32
Cape Town – SABC workers are demanding a 12% across-the-board salary increase whilst the SABC is only offering 8% - with labour unions at the SABC also unhappy about "expensive food" at the unsubsidised canteens and an insufficient meal subsidy.

The Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) – the two recognised labour unions at the SABC – initially demanded a 15% salary increase but have lowered it to 12%.

The unions and the SABC are facing a possible negotiations deadlock.

The unions are demanding, amongst other things, a 14th cheque per year above the current 13th cheque coupled to performance.

The unions want an increase in the housing subsidy to R1 500, an increase in car allowance, family responsibility leave to be increased from 5 to 10 days per year and to include extended family members. Unions are also calling for a cellphone policy review to include an allowance for operational requirements.

Food fight

Food is also troubling the unions. 

Employees at the SABC currently receive a meal subsidy of R45 per month.

According to the unions, the SABC, which always provided a subsidised canteen at the SABC's Auckland Park headquarters recently "unprocedurally and irregularly" stopped the subsidy to the canteen and closed it down.

"It resulted in only one, very expensive unsubsidised restaurant at Radio Park and two unsubsidised canteens at TV."

The unions are also demanding that 2% of the total salary bill or R32m of R1.6bn is set aside for the regrading of workers' salaries.

The SABC didn't respond to media enquiries made on Tuesday about the public broadcaster's current salary wage negotiations with workers.

Banning the word 'retrenchment'

The SABC's new CEO, Lulama Mokhobo, in her first appearance before parliament recently said that the public broadcaster won't be getting rid of workers when she presented the SABC's new three-year Corporate Plan for 2012 – 2015.

"In fact, I'm going to ban the word 'retrenchment'," she told parliament.

When the SABC received a R1.47bn bail-out in the form of a government guaranteed loan through Nedbank – R1bn of which the SABC used – one of the stipulations was that the SABC needed to trim the public broadcaster's personnel number.

Job cuts were also part of the SABC's drastic Turnaround Strategy to right the struggling broadcaster. By 2011 the SABC admitted to parliament that the SABC had failed to reduce the head count with the targets it said it would.

Tight control over head count

Mokhobo told parliament that henceforth tight control will be implemented over personnel numbers at the SABC.

Vacancies will only be filled if appointments can be justified. The remuneration budget would be locked at R1.9bn. Overtime and leave liabilities will also be reduced. Overtime will be abolished by the end of the year, she said.

Mokhobo said that with the switch-over to digital terrestrial television (DTT) and the growing number of new TV channels the SABC is planning, personnel will not be let go but rather be reassigned to work on the new channels. 

She said however that the SABC remains committed to realigning its head count. 

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