Thursday, 25 February 2010



- The SABC was described as "distasteful, unacceptable and dishonest" in a scathing attack over the rights of its pensioners in the Rand High Court on Wednesday.

Judge Percy Blieden delivered judgment in the class-action suit brought by 93 SABC pensioners after the SABC suspended their medical contributions and cheaper TV licences in a "unilateral" way "without negotiating".

The groups of pensioners - including well-known personalities such as Cliff Saunders, Johann Pretorius and André Liebenberg - walked out of the courtroom victoriously.

The SABC was ordered to start paying 60% of the pensioners' medical-fund contributions with immediate effect.

The public broadcaster was also ordered to reinstate the TV subsidy to pensioners immediately.

Moreover, the broadcaster was also told to refund all the money the pensioners had to pay from their own pockets ever since the benefits were suspended, as well as the interest at 15.5% per year.

Costs estimated at R250m

The exercise is estimated to ultimately cost the SABC R250m.

Blieden said as a "state organ" the SABC is expected to act ethically, to practise good human-resources management, to be transparent with information and to act impartially, fairly, equally and without prejudice in its service provision.

"Unfortunately the facts of this case prove that none of the conditions were met by the SABC in its relationship with the pensioners.

"The mere thought that costs are curbed by aiming at the rights of pensioners with regards to medical-aid funding is not only distasteful but unacceptable and dishonest."

Conspiracy claims "scandalous and libellous"

Blieden also rejected an argument from the SABC that the pensioners conspired before their retirement to ensure that "white managers in the SABC" resigned with benefits to which they were not entitled, as "totally scandalous and libellous".
Piet Bester from the firm Blake Bester Inc, which acted on behalf of the pensioners, described the verdict on Wednesday as a "strong signal to all employers in the country that they cannot unilaterally and without negotiation" tamper with employee and pensioner benefits.

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