The Right2Know Campaign stands in solidarity with the striking SABC workers and calls on SABC management to immediately address the 13 demands from October 2017. It is disheartening that since the appointment of the permanent SABC Board, little if anything, has been done to honour the SABC’s commitment to workers’ rights.
It must be noted that SABC workers have borne the brunt of the SABC’s crises over the years. The SABC was able to procure millions to pay interim board members, despite the financial crunch, yet claims they cannot afford a ten per cent increment for workers. This raises the question of prioritisation. Remedial action by the SABC Board would go a long way in signalling the advent of stability and sound management at the public broadcaster.
R2K is dismayed by the decision of the SABC management to apply the no work no pay principle, noting that this goes against the spirit of the workers’ right to strike. It is commendable that BEMAWU and CWU have decided to work in concert around the matter of wages. Workers united will never be defeated.
The welfare and working conditions of workers at the public broadcaster are a precondition for quality and balanced programming. It is unfortunate that to date, management and the Board have turned deaf ears to the plight of staff.
R2K will continue to hold the public broadcaster accountable to serving the interests of the people. Defending the rights of their workers is a core part of holding the SABC accountable to its mandate.
We demand that:
- Governance and management structures of the SABC be independent of all levels of government, and of private sector interests. The Board must implement the recommendations by Parliament’s ad-hoc committee and the Public Protector’s report on the SABC’s governance lapses.
- All people have access to the SABC as the public broadcaster. To enable this, the SABC must be well-resourced from both public and other non-commercial sources. It is incumbent on the Board to resolve the institution’s current financial crisis and ensure that SABC staff and independent producers do not bear the brunt of the previous management’s corrupt practices.
- There be no censorship policies or practices. The SABC must not lean towards politically biased coverage, and must ensure that they neither actively nor indirectly suppress views and content deemed to be critical of the ruling political and economic elites. Editorial policies must be the outcome of a participatory process that engages key stakeholders, including the public. The stalled Editorial Policy Review process must therefore be immediately expedited.
- Competent executives, fully committed to the SABC’s mandate — including a permanent CEO, chief operating officer and chief financial officer — be appointed. The Broadcasting Act, Section 14 (1), concerning the executive committee, makes absolutely no provision for the ministerial appointment of executive members, and as such it is incumbent on the Board to resist any undue interference in this process by the Minister of Communications.
- R2K urges the board to take all necessary measures to end the climate of harassment and intimidation of SABC’s workers, and to raise the morale of staff. This must include a full investigation of the role and conduct of the State Security Agency in investigating employees, and an end to the problematic ‘interception’ clauses in recent SABC employments contracts which force workers to consent to interception of their communications. Further, the board should ensure that the SABC adopts comprehensive policies on protecting workers’ communication and personal information, as well as a whistleblower charter that will protect and promote whistleblowing within the organisation. R2K notes the grave concerns expressed by SABC staff, most of whom are represented by BEMAWU. Right2Know Campaign unreservedly supports the SABC staff’s rights to engage in a legal strike action, and calls upon the Board to ensure that BEMAWU thirteen demands are met forthwith.
- The Board urgently convene a broad-based stakeholders’ consultative meeting in order to allow for the people’s participation in the rejuvenation of the public broadcaster.
R2K hopes that the SABC Board awakens itself to the interests of the people.
Ten per cent! Ten per cent! Get it from the money Hlaudi spent!