Striking SABC employees have threatened to shut down the broadcaster ahead of the African National Congress conference at Nasrec in Johannesburg on Saturday, if the board does not meet its demands for a 10 percent salary increase.
"Minister Gigaba, give them the guarantee, because they are blaming you. Gigaba, we will not move from here. We are going to switch off this country. Nobody will watch television in this country," Nathen Bowers, an employee and a member of the Communications Worker Union (CWU), said outside the SABC's Auckland Park headquarters on Thursday morning.
"They won't see Nasrec. We will show them," he added.
Bowers said they started negotiations with the broadcaster as early as July this year.
"We started with 15 percent and they reduced our offer. We went down to 10 percent, but throughout the negotiations they have negotiated with us in bad faith. The SABC must call us back to the table and offer us the 10 percent," Bowers said.
Board's Claim 'Does not add up'
Bowers said the board offered them an increase of 4.5 percent over six months. The offer was made on Friday, December 8.
"What we see is that the elites are taking the money for themselves while we, the working class, are suffering. Here, where we are and in the townships, we are suffering."
Hannes du Buisson of the Broadcasting Electronic Media and Allied Workers Union (Bemawu), said workers were treated by the board as not "being important".
"The board is prepared to cough up money to pay other people to come do the work to replace those that are on strike, but they claimed that they don't have money. That does not add up."
Du Buisson said employees were also unhappy about a R3.9-million payment made to board members.
According to Du Buisson, the amount was the highest payment made in the history of the SABC.
The unions haven't met with SABC management since.
Sibusiso Khanyi of the CWU said workers were starving and needed better salaries.
"Board members are getting R3.9-million within six months, so workers are demanding their 10 percent increase.
"If we don't get the 10 percent, we will soldier on, and we are waiting for management to come to us. Strike is the last resort when it comes to workers."
SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago could not be not reached for comment.