Saturday, 30 May 2009

We did NOT sign...

BEMAWU did NOT sign a 7% or any salary increase with the SABC.

Apparently some reckless and clueless individuals has spread this rumour. It appears to be the same clueless individuals who are currently foolishly advising union members to embark on a strike on an agreement that has already secured 12.2% for members. Failure to implement MUST be referred to litigation, and cannot be subjected to a strike. It is the same individuals who has said they will NOT negotiate with the SABC, whilst we have agreed (in the multi-term agreement) to negotiate should the CPIX be more or less than what was stipulated in the agreement.

Those individuals are repudiating the contract (multi-term agreement) by refusing to comply with terms of the contract, and the SABC can accept the repudiation and cancel the contract if they want to, resulting in negotiations from scratch.

In short, they are risking the 12.2% we have already secured.

BEMAWU has a cordial relationship with both the CWU and MWASA and we will not allow uninformed selfish individuals in those organisations to risk that relationship or the employment and well being of SABC employees.

We will continue to negotiate with the SABC to secure the best deal for our members without risking their employment. We will not lead our members on a strike for the sake of striking. Should we not be able to get what we believe is fair, we will pursue a legal route.

Without repeating what we have said previously, we see the issue at hand very simply to be:
  • We concluded an agreement where the SABC and us agreed to CPIX +1%
  • We have agreed that it will be implemented 1 April 2009. (This is where the SABC is in breach of contract, and we have threatened them with legal action)
  • The SABC must therefore implement the 12.2% until we have concluded a new agreement, if at all
  • We agreed any party to the agreement may re-open negotiations should the CPIX falls below 4% or rises to 9% or above,
  • The opening of negotiations does not terminate the agreement, in particular not the implementation of the CPIX +1% which has been fixed on 12.2%,
  • Only when we have concluded a new agreement after negotiations, the 12.2% obligation changes to whatever we have agreed to, if we agree to something else.
  • Putting it differently, we have 12.2% in hand. The SABC should convince us to accept less.
  • They can only do so by means of negotiations, meaning we must agree to a lower increase or by locking us out after they have followed due procedure.
  • Had the CPIX been below 4% - say 3%, the SABC would have been contractually bound to implement 4% (CPIX + 1%) on 1 April 2009.
  • We would have been entitled to re-open negotiations, and in the event that we were not able to negotiate a higher percentage increase, the increase would remain 4%. It would be possible to embark on a protected strike to persuade the SABC to offer more.
  • So can employees strike at this point in time?
  • Technically yes, but it would be stupid to strike for something you already have (the 12.2%). If the CPIX was 3%, we would have had 4% in hand (CPIX + 1%), and could then strike for a higher percentage.

It was never the intention of the parties to this multi-term agreement to delay the implementation date of salaries because we are not in agreement with each other on a lower (or higher) percentage. The SABC has admitted to the 12.2%.

We will on Monday again demand immediate implementation of the 12.2% and we will again commit ourselves to good faith negotiations in respect of a possible different structuring of the agreement. Should the SABC fails to agree, we will proceed with litigation.


Thursday, 28 May 2009

Meeting 28 May

The three unions and the SABC met at 10:00 this morning. A revised proposal was presented by management being 7% at the end of June 2009, back dated to 1 April 2009 plus an additional 1.5% by September 2009, backdated to 1 April 2009. The SABC proposed that we enter into negotiations in respect of the remaining 3.7% but they clearly stated they will not be able to afford at least 2% of the 3.7%.

By re-opening negotiations, the SABC has taken the process back into the normal collective bargaining arena where employees will be allowed to strike. The acting head of employee relations, Mr Andre Weber confirmed that employees of the SABC will now be able to lawfully strike since the SABC has invoked the clause where they want to negotiate.

It is however not necessary to strike. In terms of the contract (multi-term agreement) the SABC must implement the 12.2%, which will remain in force until a new agreement has been reached. Putting it differently, nothing can be taken away from members, unless we agree. Had the CPIX been low, we could then strike for a higher percentage. Should we not agree to a lower percentage, the SABC’s remedy would be to lock-out members to compel us to accept a lower increase. They are however currently in breach of the contract by refusing to implement the 12.2%.

We have already started negotiations with the SABC. Our willingness to negotiate is no way an admission that our members are not legally entitled to the 12.2%. This also does not constitute a relaxation of the agreement to not implement the 12.2%.

The 12.2% must be implemented with immediate effect and will remain in force until we have agreed on another percentage.

Apart from our legal right to the increase, this is a test of their sincerity, goodwill and integrity.

Fact is, we have entered into an agreement where we have agreed to accept average CPIX +1%. Had the average CPIX been 3%, the SABC would have insisted on, and in fact implemented 4%. They would have said to us the agreement stipulates they must implement on 1 April 2009, and if we want to enter into negotiations, we have the right to do so (because the agreement says so). If we fail to agree on a higher percentage, the 4% will remain effective. They would be correct.

According to the SABC they have decided to re-open negotiations because we did not want to negotiate (their term for not agreeing) with them. (Yes, we are confused too).

We will meet on Monday again with the SABC. If they do not agree with our proposal, and they continue to be in breach of the agreement, we will proceed with legal action.


Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Report Back

The meeting attended by BEMAWU, MWASA and CWU members took place at 15:00 today.

Auckland Park was well attended and the Auditorium packed and filled to its capacity. Members in all the regions participated via line conference. The proposal by management of a staggered increase was put to the joint caucus. It was almost unanimously rejected and the joint caucus demanded the immediate implementation of the 12.2%. Employees were not interested in a staggered increase.

The main reason voiced was a total lack of trust in the Board and Top management. Despite the assurance from union leaders that there will be a watertight agreement, employees were adamant that they have absolutely no trust in the Board and Top Management. Employees voiced their concerns and fears that the SABC will not honour the agreement to implement the staggered part (4.2%) later.

A vote of no confidence were then passed in the Board and Top Management and the caucus demanded the immediate resignation of the Board and Top Management. Fears and concerns were voiced that the SABC will finds itself in a much worse financial position by March 2010 when the last part of the multi-term will kick in. (Again CPI-X plus 1%). It was said that we will have to go through the same motions to get the increase. The majority of the joint caucus mandated the three unions to jointly declare a dispute of interest and to embark on protected industrial action should the Board and Top Management refuse to resign with immediate effect.

It was clear from the reaction of employees present at the meeting that they were angry about what they called disrespect for employees in general by management and the Board and some of them were prepared to embark on an unprotected strike to get their 12.2% immediately. We advised them against such action.

With a joint caucus it is difficult to determine what the real mandate of each individual union is.

BEMAWU will therefore seek a mandate from our members by means of SMS or electronic voting in respect of the staggered increase.

We will also poll our members in respect of the collective vote of no confidence in the Board and Top Management. Should the initial results show a strong support for procedural industrial action to force the Board and Top Management to resign, BEMAWU will conduct a proper ballot of BEMAWU members only and in terms of its constitution to determine support for a protected strike by our members.

With the Confederation Cup around the corner, we trust that the Board, or at least what is left of it, will resign to avoid a stand-off between the three unions and them. As the SABC has said, it will not be in the public interest.

Employees are not allowed to strike in respect of the salary dispute, but can certainly do so to get the Board to resign.

It is our view that industrial action should be reserved only as an absolute last resort, and it is not our intention to lobby our members to strike to get the Board to resign, and in particular to jeopardise the broadcasting of the Confederation Cup. We will therefore call on our members to be responsible and make their choice with their heads and not their hearts. Should the Board however refuse to resign, and the majority (80%) outcome of a ballot is in favour of industrial action, we will ensure that such industrial action will be procedural, protected (in compliance with the Labour Relations Act, and members will therefore not be at risk) and peaceful.


Monday, 25 May 2009


We have met with individual members of the Board and Top management today to discuss the implementation of the 12.2% salary increase. Only BEMAWU and MWASA attended the meeting.

The following came out of the meeting:

  • SABC Board and Top Management admitted and confirmed that the percentage increase they are legally liable for and obliged to implement amounts to 12.2%.
  • That it is their intention to honour and implement the agreement of 12.2%
  • That the SABC is currently in a tight cash flow position and they cannot afford to implement the 12.2% in one month,

The SABC proposed the following:

  • That the increase be staggered as follows:
  • 8% increase at the end of June 2008, backdated to 1 April 2009.
  • Thereafter 1.5% increase at the end of July 2009, backdated to 1 April 2009.
  • Thereafter another 1.5% at the end of the 3rd quarter (no specific date given) and they want to have further discussions with us as to whether they will backdate this or not,
  • Further discussions in respect of the remainder (1.2%) and whether it will be backdated or not. Indications are that it will only be implemented in the last quarter (March 2010).
  • That they are not prepared to pay any interest on the money due and outstanding to members.

We proposed the following, without prejudice:

  • 8% increase immediately, backdated to 1 April 2009 and within a week from now.
  • 4.2% on 1 December 2009 (or before if possible), backdated to 1 April 2009 plus interest from 1 April 2009.

We also proposed that the following conditions be included in the agreement:

  1. That the SABC will not retrench any BEMAWU or MWASA member in the next two years,
  2. That the SABC consents to civil judgement in the High Court should they fail to honour the (new proposed) agreement.
  3. Interest be paid on all monies not implemented now.
  4. Back pay be effected on all.

A general meeting will be held on Tuesday, 26 May 2009 at 15:00 to seek mandate from members.

We will also send out e-mails that will request members to vote. The options are:

  1. Accept the offer of management, as is.
  2. Proceed with legal action to enforce the 12.2% at once.
  3. Present a differently structured demand to management, which may include interest and if they don't agree, proceed with legal action.

A follow-up meeting is scheduled for Thursday, 28 May 2009 at 09:00 with SABC management.

We were informed at the meeting that the CWU has proceeded with a CCMA referral to arbitrate on the implementation of the agreement. We believe this is premature and detrimental to its members at this point in time, as the SABC is willing to honour the 12.2% and wants to discuss the implementation of same.

Update on Salary Increase

On Thursday, 21 May 2009 BEMAWU served a letter of demand on the SABC to effect the CPIX + 1% increase in terms of the Multi-term agreement signed last year. We made it clear we will proceed with legal action should the SABC not implement the 12%. We were called to an urgent meeting on Friday, 22 May 2009 with Khanyi Mkhonza and Mr. Andile Mbeki of the Board. The CPO, CFO and other members of the Board/Management also attended.

We made it clear that we are not there to negotiate a percentage increase, but that we want to enforce our right in terms of the Multi-term Agreement.

The SABC admitted and acknowledged that SABC employees are entitled to the 12% increase. They explained the financial difficulty they are finding themselves in to us (again), and undertook to report back to us Monday, 25 May 2009 at 12:00 as to how they intend to implement the 12%.

Please note that a looming strike in respect of the salary increase is devoid of all truth at this stage. This however does not mean that we are not prepared to embark on procedural industrial action as and when the need arises.

We believe the SABC will implement 7% immediately, and discuss with us how to implement the rest in today's meeting. We are hopeful that we can reach an amicable agreement with them to avoid further legal action.


Wednesday, 06 May 2009

Please Vote

We have received NO RESPONSE from Gab. We call on BEMAWU members to vote on a way forward.

We have two options:

1. Enforce the multi-term by means of an urgent court application (BEMAWU will go ahead and bring an application on its own to enforce and protect the rights of our members, as other Unions have not responded to a request from us to join in such an application and share the costs).

2. Wait until the SABC wants to schedule negotiations, which may take months, and re-negotiate a salary increase.

Please get everyone to vote.

Monday, 04 May 2009

No Response!


Dear Sir,

On Friday, 24 April 2009 we have send you the letter attached below.

We have not received a response.

Could you urgently respond to our letter and request?


Hannes du Buisson