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South African Broadcasters to Decide on Strike Action Monday


Workers of the South African Broadcasting Cooperation (SABC) will decide Monday whether to embark on a strike action.

The Broadcast Electronic Media and Allied Workers Union (BEMAWU) said its members will be voting to determine the next line of action in their demand for better working conditions.

The move comes after negotiations between the workers and management broke down. The workers are accusing the state broadcaster of reneging on a salary increase and better working conditions agreement.

"At 12 O'clock today (Monday), we will have a ballot of our members. There are two other unions involved as well. So all three unions will ballot its members," said Hannes Du-Buisson, president of BEMAWU.

He said the outcome of the vote would determine the union's action.

"If the outcome of the ballot is in favor of the strike, then SABC employees will embark on a strike within the next hour or so," he said.

Du-Buisson said SABC attributed its decision not to agree to a pay increase to financial instability.

"SABC signed a salary or a wage agreement with the unions last year …and they were supposed to award or to pay a salary increase…and the SABC is currently reneging on that. They are refusing, and they are pleading poverty at this point in time," Du-Buisson said.

He described as frustrating negotiations with the SABC management.

"We have exhausted all avenues. On Friday, we have been in negotiations with the group chief executive of the SABC himself and the top executive management team. And it seems to us that they are not prepared to move from what they are offering currently," he said.

Du-Buisson said the workers are not to blame for the timing of an imminent strike.

"It is not necessarily because of our doing that this is the timing. But what you have to keep in mind is that we have signed what is called a multi-term agreement that is a three-year agreement," he said.

Du-Buisson said the 2010 World Cup faces a possible strike action if the demands of communication workers are not met.

"Next year with the World Cup soccer in South Africa, the third leg of that agreement is going to kick in. and there might also be a possibility of industrial action if the SABC does not pay employees what they have promised in terms of that agreement," Du-Buisson said.

Meanwhile, the minister of communication, Siphiwe Nyanda, has reportedly dissolved the SABC board after nine of its members resigned over an investigation into financial mismanagement. The legislature has also passed a vote of no confidence in the board.


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