SA Typographical Union hits out at planned Tiso Blackstar retrenchments


JOHANNESBURG, May 9 – The South African Typographical Union (SATU) on Thursday said it was “disappointed” by the process undertaken by Tiso Blackstar to cut jobs.

Earlier this week, striking staff at Tiso Blackstar were sent an email which advised them of pending retrenchments.

“You will no doubt be aware that the company is proposing a broad restructuring of its editorial operations as a result of the economic headwinds facing the business in the form of lower advertising and circulation revenue,” said the email written by Andy Gill, Tiso Blackstar managing director.

“While it is unfortunate that this is likely to result in job losses, the sustainability of the division remains our most important objective. The fact is that we are operating in a much-changed operating environment which our business has to adapt to if it is to remain profitable and relevant.

“The company has issued Section 189A notices to all editorial staff in the Sowetan, Dispatch and Herald newsrooms as well as the editorial production staff in the business media stream.”

Reacting to the notification, SATU said it was of the opinion that such drastic measures were hasty.

“SATU had already been served with a notice in terms of Section 189A of the Labour Relations Act, Act 66 of 1995 as amended by management and engagements were ongoing,” said the union in a statement.

The union also revealed that management at Tiso Blackstar recently threatened to stop the deduction of the subscription fees paid by members.

Edward De Klerk, the general secretary of SATU said management at Tiso Blackstar was “now essentially culling staff” in what the union viewed as a “knee jerk” reaction.

Tiso Blackstar also said the poor performance in the six months to December had worsened in the first quarter of 2019 and was not expected to improve in the short to medium term as a result of continued macro-economic weakness.

As a result, Gill said in his email to staff: “The business has today notified staff at Sunday World that it is considering the closure of the title after two years of deliberation and continued and increasing losses.”

The move, which came soon after Tiso Blackstar had reportedly asked President Cyril Ramaphosa how it could do its part to help revive the economy, was met with union scepticism.

The main theme of the letter was the engagement of all the relevant stakeholders to transform the industry and ultimately to become a vehicle for opportunities in the fourth industrial revolution, to grow employment and eradicate poverty.

“This notion flies in the face of business’ commitment made during last year’s Presidential Jobs Summit to try and stave off retrenchments instead of using them as a tool to maximise profits,” said De Klerk.

– African News Agency (ANA)