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.