The Congress of South African Trade Unions fully support the workers at SABC in their fight against the planned retrenchments. The announcement by the SABC that it plans to retrench about 400 workers is ill-advised and regrettable.
This comes on the back of depressing statistics that show that the unemployment rate, in the country, rose by 7,5 percentage points to 30,8%, the highest figure on record. What is more scandalous is that the government is leading the charge when it comes to destroying jobs, at a time when it is supposed to be exemplary in protecting and creating new jobs.
These retrenchments are not just going to destroy workers lives and those of their families, but they are going to weaken what is a very vital institution of our democracy.
The Federation believes in a stable and self-sustaining public broadcaster, but retrenching workers is not the solution. These workers are being scapegoated by the managers and decision-makers, who are responsible for this mess. This will weaken this important institution at a time when COVID-19 has shown us the importance of having a viable public broadcaster
These retrenchments are about weakening the public sector and outsourcing an important developmental mandate to the private sector. The South African Constitution states that “Public Administration must be development-oriented”. It further states that the “people’s needs must be responded to, and the public must be encouraged to participate in policy-making”.
The SABC is the only vehicle which can possibly speak for all South Africans in their own languages and reflect their lives, history, and culture.
These constitutional injunctions place the public service and the broader public-sector at the centre of the socio-economic development and elevate the need for people-centred development programmes. We call on the ANC government to intervene and honour its commitment it has made to the people.
In its Manifesto the ANC said, “The ANC is committed to building a democratic developmental state able to lead efforts to overcome unemployment and poverty and reduce inequality. The developmental state would play a strategic guiding role in the economy and decisively intervene in the interests of the people, particularly the workers and the poor”.
These retrenchments and austerity strategy by government promote the commodification of public services rather than the promotion of constitutional or citizenship rights, and as such citizens are becoming “customers” or “clients” in the practice of the delivery of public services.
Fixing the problems of the current crisis should not be done at the expense of workers through the intensification of exploitation, retrenchments, and the privatisation of public enterprises. The real cause of this crisis is the pandemic of corruption and wasteful expenditure that is yet to be properly addressed at the SABC.
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson) Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794