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SABC unions to intensify fight against retrenchments

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Unions affiliated to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) are not going down without a fight. This comes after more than 300 staffers received redundancy and surplus letters.

The Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) has threatened to take to the streets once again if a fair process is not followed, saying this was the only legal and constitutional way to fend off retrenchments at the SABC.

The SABC decided to forge ahead with retrenchments after months of consultations with unions and the CMMA.

 Bemawu and the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) now intend writing to the SABC board requesting an urgent meeting on the Section 189 process. Bemawu’s Hannes Du Buisson said they would strike, should the meeting not go their way.

“The meeting has resolved that should the board refuse to meet with labour at the SABC – that is Bemawu and CWU – then Bemawu members will proceed to participate in the strike that has already been filed by the CWU. We trust this will not be necessary and we will not be forced to resort to such drastic measures,” Du Buisson said.

While the CWU’s Aubrey Tshabalala said while they are in favour of the strike, they would also have to consider the fact that there is a global pandemic, and would not want to put members at risk.

SABC refutes rumours of more retrenchments

Amid the jobs bloodbath at the SABC, the broadcaster has come out guns blazing against claims that it intends closing down non-English radio stations, which would lead to more retrenchments.

“The SABC dealt with similar allegations in November 2020 and would like to reiterate that there is no truth in these allegations. The public broadcaster is fully cognisant that millions of South Africans rely on its radio network as the only and most easily accessible source of public service content. On the contrary, the radio stations’ proposed structures are promoting and supporting the current needs of audiences, such as digital accessibility,” it said.

At the same time, the SABC intends filling vacant posts and wants to complete the Section 189 process by February.

“At this stage, we are confident in terms of the process, a lot can change between now and then, for example, we have 170 vacancies and our planning is based around that, but hypothetically, say if 100 people opt for early retirement there is an additional 100 positions. So, it’s very difficult to say at this stage, but we are on track to meet the timelines,” the broadcaster’s Chief Operating Officer, Ian Plaatjes is quoted as saying.

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International Organisations

UN: 43% of Yemen families reduce daily meals due to economic volatility

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43 per cent of Yemeni families have been forced to reduce the number of their daily meals due to the country’s economic fluctuations, the United Nations (UN) World Food Programme (WFP) in Yemen announced yesterday.

“Economic volatility & conflict means that many in Yemen regularly reduce the frequency or size of their meals or parents eat less so they can feed their children,” the WFP posted on Twitter.

Experts have said in recent months that Yemeni citizens’ purchasing power had declined due to a collapse of the national currency, with more than 900 riyals against the US dollar, reaching its peak last November.

Impoverished Yemen has been mired in a conflict since the Houthis ousted the government from power in the capital city of Sanaa in late 2014. The conflict escalated in March 2015 when a Saudi-led military coalition intervened, backing the Yemeni government.

The UN has said that the war has led to the worst humanitarian crisis globally, leaving 80 per cent of the population dependent on humanitarian aid to survive, and more than 100,000 dead.

READ: Biden to review Houthi terrorist designation and curb support for Saudi coalition

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Ireland

Nothing rushed about special education reopening says Foley

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The Minister for Education has denied there was anything rushed about the botched reopening of special education, as talks with unions continue.

Norma Foley says every effort is being made to ensure children with special educational needs can return to school.

Students with special education needs had been due attend classes in-person once again from today, before talks between the Department of Education and the unions collapsed on Tuesday.

Union representatives said staff were hesitant to return to the classroom with the current high levels of Covid-19 in the community.

Ms Foley accused the unions of being “disingenuous” saying it was regretful they would not accept the public health advice that schools are a safe, controlled environment.

Describing Ireland as an outlier when it comes to students with special educational needs not attending classes in-person, Minister Foley said opposition assertions that the plan was not thought through are wrong.

Referencing the Minister’s comments regarding the talks with teachers’ and special needs assistants’ representatives, Labour’s education spokesperson Aodhan O’Riordain said Ms Foley should not make comments in public if she wants to get a deal.

“Say what you have to say in private with those unions who have also committed to do the same thing and then potentially we may have a road map for achieving what we all want, which is that education can be delivered [to] those who need it most,” said Mr O’Riordain.

Despite the difficulties, Fórsa, which represents special needs assistants, has reaffirmed its commitment to resuming education for students with additional needs, resuming engagement with Department officials this afternoon to “improve safety provision and re-build confidence”.

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