Monday, 18 August 2014

Generations Principal Cast Fired En Masse

**UPDATE BELOW IN RED** more to thinks about
**UPDATE BELOW IN BLUE** Press Release from the Generations Actors Guild

I was just scrolling through my newsfeed and spotted this. Interesting turn of events… the following article is a se-post, 1) the Eyewitness News status. 2) Commentary by Vanessa Perumal, 3) Open Letter from the dismissed cast of Generations.

Do they have a valid point? Should other artists stand by them in this?

Your thoughts would be appreciated.

Sandy Bigara

1) Eyewitness News wrote:
NEWS JUST IN: Generations executive producer and creator Mfundi Vundla has confirmed that 16 cast members have been fired with immediate effect.

2) Vanessa Perumal wrote:
Generations fans = if you did not get the news -
Generations Principal Cast Dismissed En Masse
The principal cast of Generations, who have been withholding their services, have each received letters of dismissal, with immediate effect.
The cast have made a decision to examine their legal options, as a result of this latest development, and will update members of the media accordingly on their next course of action.

The cast comments: "We are saddened by this development, but remain steadfast in our goal to ensure fair working conditions for ourselves as creative professionals."

 The dismissed cast members are:
 1.     Anga Makubalo (MJ Dlomo)
2.     Atandwa Kani (Samora Lembede)
3.     Katlego Danke (Dineo Dlomo)
4.     Mandla Gaduka (Selwyn 'Choppa' Maithufi)
5.     Menzi Ngubane (Sbusiso Dlomo)
6.     Nambitha Mpumlwana (Mawande Memela)
7.     Patrick Shai (Patrick Tlaole )
8.     Slindile Nodangala  (Ruby Dikobe)
9.     Sophie Ndaba (Queen Moroka)
10.  Seputla Sebogodi (Kenneth Mashaba)
11.  Thami Mngqolo (Senzo Dlomo)
12.  Thato Molamu (Nicholas Nomvete )
13.  Winnie Ntshaba (Khetiwe Buthelezi)
14.  Zenande Mfenyana (Noluntu Memela)
15.  Zikhona Sodlaka (Priska Nomvete)
16.  Zolisa Xaluva (Jason Malinga)

3) Open Letter from the Generations Actors Guild to our Audience and Fans

Monday, 18 August 2014

Dear Fans and Generations Viewers;

By now, you would have heard that we, the principal cast of Generations, have made a decision to embark on a strike, and walk off the set of Generations.

First of all, we want to apologise for the inconvenience that this may cause you, as our loyal viewers and fans. Please believe that it is not a decision we came to lightly. However, in light of the SABC and the MMSV Productions continued refusal to engage with us, and our grievances, we felt that reviving the strike was the only course of action available to us.

We wanted to take this opportunity to explain to you exactly what led to this drastic action, and give a full context of the events to date.  It is also important for us to state that before we went on strike, we made a point of communicating our unhappiness to MMSV Productions, to no avail.

We live in a country that is notorious for artists living and dying in a state of poverty, tragically,  never managing to earn what is their due, despite being associated with a number of successful projects.  We have made a decision, as dedicated professionals working on South Africa's most successful TV show, that we will not be part of this painful statistic.  There is no reason, whatsoever, that we should live as 'struggling actors' when our show generates an incredible income for the production house and broadcaster.

There are a number of issues that led us to the strike - however, the main ones are:

1.The Generations cast, despite the show being the most popular in South Africa,  is paid rates well below what is understood to be the industry norm. There has been a great deal of talk from the SABC that we want to be paid extravagant salaries – this is simply not true.  Our actor colleagues on the same platform, SABC, are paid at much better rates – so it is possible. For some bizarre reason, however, the powers-that-be choose to keep Generations cast locked into a lower pay grade. This is unjust, and we want it reviewed.   We don't think this is an unreasonable request, considering the audience figures and revenues that the show generates.  We just want to be paid fairly, that's all.

     When we went on strike last October, we proposed a set of rates that we should be paid. In November 2013, MMSV Productions agreed to meet these rates, provided the SABC would also support the proposed normalization of salaries. The SABC responded that they would like some time to review the proposed rates, and would revert in March 2014.  In March, the SABC requested an extension to July 2014 to continue examining the proposed rates. When the July deadline elapsed, there was no communication from them as to the outcome of their deliberations. When we enquired, we received no response. It became clear to us that their requests for extensions were merely a delaying tactic, and there had never been an intention, as promised, to review the salary scales.

     Bear in mind, that based on the SABC's November 2013 commitment to review the salaries, the cast honoured the broadcaster's request that they return to set and continue filming. In the end, we, as the cast, want what is best for the show.  It's a real pity that the SABC and MMSV Productions chose to use this as an opportunity to continue to exploit the cast, with no intention whatsoever to fulfill their promises.  

2.Royalties and syndication fees.  Our contracts stipulate that we, as cast, are due certain fees whenever Generations is sold to an international broadcaster. To date, the show is aired in a number of different countries across the world. However, we, as the cast, have never received our royalties.  Syndication fees and royalties are a very important revenue stream in any actor's life, and it is worrying – and telling - that the SABC continues to deny us what we are owed in this regard.  Why is this?

3.3-Year Contracts  - the Generations shooting schedule is intense, and leaves little time for us as actors to pursue other professional opportunities.  In requesting 3-year contracts, we are not demanding a blanket 3-year guarantee of work. We understand that clauses can be inserted to terminate employment due to issues of non-performance, insubordination and issues of that nature.  However, if we are effectively locked into working only for Generations, we feel that it is only reasonable that there be a level of stability that we be afforded in turn.

      We have tried repeatedly, to accommodate the SABC and MMSV Productions – whenever they requested an extension to examine the issues, we agreed. When, in November 2013 they asked us to end our original strike while they reviewed our demands, we agreed.  They committed to reverting to us with their responses to our demands – instead, they have issued us with threats to dismiss us if we don't return to work. We regard this as a breach of trust, and working in completely bad faith with us. We also consider their insistence on not paying us our fair due as a disturbing flouting of fundamental labour practices, and a perversion of the South Africa we are trying to build – a South Africa where labour is compensated fairly and appropriately.  The cast remains open to negotiating and working out a solution, and hopes that the broadcaster and production house respond to this sentiment.

We thank you for your patience with us, and hope you understand our difficulty and stand with us in this troubling time.

With love, and respect:

The Generations Actors Guild

Anga Makubalo (MJ Dlomo), Atandwa Kani (Samora Lembede), Katlego Danke (Dineo Dlomo), Mandla Gaduka (Selwyn 'Choppa' Maithufi), Menzi Ngubane (Sbusiso Dlomo), Nambitha Mpumlwana (Mawande , Patrick Shai (Patrick Tlaole), Slindile Nodangala  (Ruby Dikobe), Sophie Ndaba (Queen Ndaba), Seputla Sebogodi (Kenneth Mashaba), Thami Mngqolo (Senzo ) , Thato Molamu (Nicholas Nomvete ) , Winnie Ntshaba (Khetiwe Buthelezi), Zenande Mfenyana (Noluntu Memela), Zikhona Sodlaka (Priska Nomvete) , Zolisa Xaluva (Jason Malinga )

Is the SABC firing the Generations cast? (click title to go to the News24 page)

By: Thinus Ferreira2014-08-18 14:13
Cape Town – The South African Guild of Actors (SAGA) tells Channel24 that the SABC's striking Generations actors are going about it the wrong way.
The Generations production was shut down again last week – the second time in 10 months – after the soap’s cast went on strike. The cast demands better and longer contracts and that the SABC pay them for "royalties" or past rebroadcasts of the shows and overseas sales of the show.
The lucrative Generations is the biggest TV soap in South Africa and also the most watched programme in the country, pulling an average audience of 7.5 million viewers on weeknights and eclipsing anything else in terms of ratings in the local TV industry for the past 20 years and counting.
The SABC threatened to fire all of the striking Generations actors on Monday, after having given them a second ultimatum to show up for filming on Monday or all be fired.

SAGA: Actors are freelance independent contractors

Actors working on soaps like the SABC's Generations, 7de Laan, Isidingo and others are freelance independent contractors, a SAGA spokesperson told Channel24 over the weekend.
"This is the correct legal status of the actor. At Generations there's a group who think they have the right to strike and the SABC can't dismiss them. But they're under a contract like when you hire an electrician to fix your geyser. You pay him and he leaves.
"Generations actors are not protected under these labour laws – it’s a contractual agreement to come and do a certain service on a specific day, or for three months. If there's a dispute, then you go for arbitration, and that's the way they should go.

"The wrong approach is that actors 'work' for the SABC or M-Net – the term employees. The correct approach is, and it stands clearly in the SABC's standard contract given to all soap actors, that the SABC pays the production company who in turn pays the actors who also receive this contract.
"In that contract is specifies clearly in clause 36.4 that the performer is contracted exclusively on a freelance basis for the purpose of fulfilling the specific function set out above. On termination of this agreement the performer shall have no right to claim employment by the producer in any capacity.
"The actor is a freelancer – he is not employed by the SABC. And when the contract has run out there is no promise of a continuation of this contract at all. He is an independent contractor.And actors like it because it means you're working for yourself.
"You're self-employed. You can work for the SABC and when you're done with your scenes you at Generations or 7de Laan you can go and do other work – voice work, adverts – because you're working for yourself". That is the correct legal status of the actor.
"There's an incorrect school of thought that soap actors are employed by the SABC or M-Net. M-Net contracts also clearly states: you're independent; you're on your own. Unfortunately there's a group of South African actors who don't yet understand fully what these contracts really mean."

'The SABC needs to be helped to solve the problem'

Generations actors are also unhappy about possible back payments and future payments for rebroadcasts as well as international sales of the show to other countries and broadcasters which they say they have not received.

"Clause 7 of the SABC contract makes provision for commercial exploitation and a percentage that should be divided among the actors. And the SABC did start paying, saying here is your cut for exploitation and sales of this property into Africa," says the SAGA spokesperson.
"The Generations actors are going about it the wrong way. They're approaching it as a labour matter, as employees, which they are not.
"The moment they realise and approach it from the right way, from the correct position given their status as independent contractors and actors, then things will fall in place," says the SAGA spokesperson.
"The SABC must pay them for commercial exploitation. It's just a difficult calculation to do, but you need to pay the actors, since you have to bear in mind what were they paid at the time.
"It takes time and the SABC needs to be helped to solve the problem. Striking is the wrong way to go," says the SAGA spokesperson.
"Nobody really bothered in the past with the money from international sales and repeat fees, but actors are becoming more and more aware of their rights. But it is in the contracts, you must only demand in terms of the contract, where is my cut? The SABC did start paying the Isidingo and Generations actors.
"At the moment SAGA still questions it and says give us the full explanation of how did you calculate this. So, we're going about it the right way, saying we want more information, before we can say yes the process is fair or not. But the money is forthcoming.
"Actors in South Africa are not paid badly. Generations actors, in lieu of the show having been on for so long, are some of the best paid soap actors in our country," says the SAGA spokesperson.
"As actors we don't have a bad deal.”


"The Generations Actors Guild notes with interest that MMSV Productions and the SABC are hosting a press conference to “clear the air” around the dismissal of the 16 members of Generations principal act.

The guild also notes with dismay that the SABC and MMSV Productions have been on a campaign of communicating misinformation about salaries and rates that the cast allegedly earns – these claims are a blatant untruth, and the guild recognizes them for what they are - a petty tactic to turn public opinion against the cast, and paint them as opportunistic, greedy and overpaid. Equally concerning is the fact that their erstwhile employers deem it appropriate to reveal salaries – even as they are a complete fabrication. As an action, it is unethical and totally inappropriate.
The members of the Generations Actors Guild will hold a press conference on Monday 25th August at 2pm at the Market theatre, where they will speak to the issues and provide a proper and true context of their working conditions and issues that led them to this point."

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