The SABC’s Auckland Park headquarters. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
The SABC’s Auckland Park headquarters. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

The financially hamstrung SABC said on Monday it will proceed with retrenchments in a bid to cut costs.

“The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) today issued a notice to all staff informing them of the SABC’s intention to proceed with Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act,” the broadcaster said in a statement.

While the SABC board maintains it has no choice but to lay off hundreds of workers in order to remain sustainable, communications minister Nomvula Mokonyane and various MPs are strongly opposed to the job cuts.

In a scathing statement in September the minister criticised the board for ‘‘ignoring the advice and support of the shareholder in this necessary and critical process of turning the SABC around’’.

‘‘This is inconsistent with the principles of good corporate governance, mutual interest and public good,’’ the minister said.

The SABC, which recorded a net loss of R622m in the financial year to end-March, spends more than R3bn a year on the salaries of more than 3,000 employees. In 2017 it reported a net loss of more than R1bn. The new SABC board, chaired by Bongumusa Makhathini, has been on an aggressive drive to turn around the public broadcaster following years of decline under former COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

In its statement on Monday, the SABC said it is envisaged that the restructuring will affect all employees at all levels.

“This would include group services, provincial operations, commercial enterprises, media technology and infrastructure, news, radio, sport and television. At this stage, and should retrenchments be necessary, it is envisaged that 981 employees may possibly be retrenched as a result of the restructuring, across all the aforesaid business units and operations of the SABC. Out of the 2,400 freelancers, 1,200 will be affected,” the broadcaster said.

“This exercise should result in a cost saving of approximately R440m per [year], even at this preliminary stage. This amount excludes the projected cost savings from the planned reduction of freelancers.… The SABC commits to complying with all the legal requirements and will also ensure that employees are kept abreast of all developments throughout the Section 189 process," the public broadcaster said.