Mon, 17 May 2021

The South African Broadcasting Corporation released a statement on Friday afternoon saying that it had "contingency plans" in place to keep broadcasts going, despite threats from the Communications Workers Union to trigger a blackout at the broadcaster through strike action.

The SABC announced at midnight that it would suspend plans to initiate retrenchment consultations in line with section 189 of the Labour Relations Act after pressure from the Department of Communications and unions to shelve the planned consultations.

While the Broadcast, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union has vowed to litigate against the planned retrenchment process, the CWU has threatened to go on strike and prompt a blackout at the broadcaster's television channels and radio stations.

But the SABC said it was wise to the CWU's plans and used a statement to promise that SABC's viewers and listeners would not be met with dead air or blank screens due to any action from the striking union.

"The SABC is fully aware of a plan to create a blackout on our platforms. We can confirm that there are contingency plans in place that will kick in immediately should this self-induced crisis be precipitated," the statement said.

The statement warned that there would be consequence against any employee found to be involved in the planned blackout.

"We want to assure the public that we remain committed to delivering our public mandate of informing, educating and entertaining South Africans, irrespective of any planned misconduct or ill-discipline," the statement said.

The SABC stressed that, as the public service broadcaster, it had a responsibility to stay on the air to inform, educate and entertain the South African public.

"The SABC has a statutory duty and public mandate to provide uninterrupted radio and television services for millions of South Africans, noting that many households depend primarily on the SABC for their information," the statement said.

Despite the SABC's announcement that the retrenchment consultations would be suspended for seven days, unions have not budged from their demonstrations and litigations and have maintained that they will not stop until the retrenchment plans are done away with.

Source: News24

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