South Africa’s SABC ‘spends big on IT hardware for strike’


National broadcaster SABC has spent hundreds of thousands of rands on laptops and computers to prepare for a possible strike by its workforce, and is setting up a temporary broadcast facility away from their head office, according to a trade union leader.

Hannes du Buisson, president of the Broadcast, Electronic Media and Allied Workers’ Union (Bemawu), said workers were angry that the SABC should be spending R700,000 on equipment to prepare for a strike but refused to grant its workers a 12,2% increase. The 12.2% increase is laid down in a multiyear salary agreement signed between unions and the SABC last year.

The SABC’s three largest unions - Bemawu, the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU), and the Media Workers’ Association of SA (Mwasa) - delivered an ultimatum to management on Tuesday, after a protest march by 500 employees. If demands for a 12,2% increase were not met, the unions, representing 70% of employees, said they would go on strike.

SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago refused to comment on Du Buisson’s allegation. “All I can is that they are trying to push us into revealing our contingency plans, which we refuse to do,” he said.

CWU representative Vulture Ntukuli criticised the SABC for not reporting on the march or picketing by employees and said the news department had ordered its staff not to publicise the protests. “We want to make sure the public knows the SABC is hiding information,” he said.

Du Buisson said the SABC’s lack of coverage demonstrated its bias as the protests were receiving international media attention. “Their objectivity is in serious question,” he said.

Business Day