The Media Workers Association of South Africa (MWASA) welcomes the softening of attitudes regarding the protracted standoff following the dismissal of members of the cast of popular TV show Generations. We acknowledge the attitudinal change by both SABC and Mr Mfundi Vundla as reported.
We are encouraged by the overwhelming support for our call to all roleplayers including the affected actors, the production company MMSV Productions and the SABC, to positively consider setting aside the wrong-option dismissals and to return to negotiations in a facilitated process.
We note Mr Vundla's position regarding his desire to have his interests considered in the settlement of the impasse. We note as well the declarations by aggrieved staff about the veracity of Mr Vundla's claims regarding working conditions. Our call has been along the lines that the affected parties must commit to bona fide consultations and negotiations under facilitation by an independent facilitator.
The role played by the SABC Chief Operations Officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, and his team in this matter is not in keeping with common appreciation of fairness. How could it be fair that one party in a negotiation process plays multiple roles and then takes deleterious decisions driven primarily by motives of self-aggrandizement and self preservation. Generations, along with the other programmes offered by the national broadcaster, the SABC, is a matter of national interest. Over 7.5 million South Africans follow the show daily, for some it is their only accessible form of entertainment and leisure.
MWASA further appreciates the interventions made by Government ministries, organised labour and civic entities in this regard. We have had fruitful engagements with many interested and affected parties over the period of the ensuing dispute at Generations. On Friday the 22nd August 2014 we met with Minister of Arts and Culture and a senior team in the ministry, the leadership of Creative Workers Union of South Africa (CWUSA) and Communication Workers Union (CWU.)
The meeting generally acknowledged that the plight of creative workers across the board may only be addressed with any modicum of success if and only when workers in the sector are organised into collective bargaining units and entities. Individuals who ride on ephemeral by-lines, fame, publicity, celebrity status and stardom do not advance the cause and course of any developmental agenda across the sector and industry. Given the potential capacity of the creative sector to generate much needed jobs, there must be radical change in the sector to free-up space for creation of sustainable jobs.
There must be a more favourable dispensation in law for all workers in the sector. Wide-spread exploitation is based on many factors including lacunae in our labour legislation, the seasonal nature of the jobs and the individualistic nature of the contractual relations which render creative workers open for exploitation by unscrupulous producers, production companies, media houses and petty middle-men.
MWASA supports the proposed two-phase process comprising the immediate reinstatement of the dismissed 16 actors which would be followed by a well-planned, inclusive national colloqium. This Indaba, as discussed by the meeting with the Minister of the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) would be seized with considering questions and issues regarding the unregulated and largely exploitative state of affairs in the creative industries.
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