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South Africa Broadcasters to Begin Protests for Better Working Conditions

Union workers of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) are scheduled to begin protesting Tuesday to demand better working conditions.

This comes after they rejected management's wage increase offer, describing it as too low.

The workers are accusing the state broadcaster of reneging on its agreement to increase salaries and provide better working conditions.

But SABC said the recent financial crunch makes it impossible to meet the striking workers' demands.

SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago told VOA management is willing to compromise on some of the workers' demands.

"It must be made very clear that we have been in negotiations with the three unions that we have over a period of time…therefore we have given them an offer and they are not happy with the offer," Kganyago said.

He said management is not in a position to meet the salary hike the workers are demanding.

"We have said clearly that we are not able to afford the amount of money that they want to get which is a 12.2 % increase. That is why they are going on strike," he said.

Kganyago denied accusations that poor management led to the failure of the SABC to live up to a previously signed agreement for better pay.

"I don't agree with that because we have clearly indicated that we have got problems in as far as revenue is concerned. As you will know this is a problem that is worldwide where revenues are minimal because of the fact that the advertisers are not advertising because of the financial crunch," Kganyago said.

He said South Africa's legislature backs an independent investigation into allegations of financial impropriety leveled against the SABC management.

"We have said as management that all these allegations that they are putting through must be investigated. And parliament in South Africa has agreed that whatever allegations they (workers) are putting through for misappropriation of money should be investigated," he said.

Kganyago said despite Tuesday's expected protests the SABC management will keep negotiating with the striking workers until the sticking points of disagreement are resolved.

"I don't think the march and the strike are the end of the process. We will always continue to engage with the union and make sure that we get to some kind of agreement especially now that we have a new interim board that is coming into place," Kganyago said.

He said the management is ready to compromise on some demands that would not financially bankrupt the state broadcaster.

"We have said it very clear that we want to agree with them on some things that we can afford because it doesn't make any sense to agree with them on something that we cannot afford. And at this present moment, it is not possible that we can afford the 12.2 % and that is a fact," he said.

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

On Monday, South Africa's Deputy President Kgalema Mothlanthe Monday appointed a new SABC interim board for a period of six months.