It could see the SABC and South Africa’s biggest TV soap run out of episodes if multiple issues are not resolved quickly.
The Generations set has abruptly been plunged into darkness after the disgruntled actors have had enough and embarked on strike action despite the SABC allegedly demanding that they return to set this past Wednesday, 13 August “or face immediate dismissal”.
The entire Generations principle cast – now a collective group – steadfastly refused to return and continued their stayaway, demanding that the production company and the SABC deal with the very same, allegedly unresolved issues which saw the cast striking just 10 months ago in October 2013. Then the SABC soap was also shuttered for weeks and also saw SABC1 almost run out of episodes to air.
So far the SABC has not responded to media enquiries made last week and this week seeking comment and asking questions about the Generations strike which started on Monday when the cast became no-shows.
The Generations cast however is talking – and they’ve now formed the Generations Actors Guild. They are adamant about wanting better longterm equity as actors in the popular TV show, willing to lose their jobs to improve what they feel is an unfair situation.
Generations is the most watched soap and most watched TV show on South African television with millions of viewers watchingevery weeknight, but the cast which includes the most well-known faces in TV households in the country, say that they have been shortchanged for years.
The Generations stars – some of South Africa’s biggest TV and soap stars – from Sophie Ndaba, Katlego Danke, Winnie Ntshaba, Menzi Ngubane, Zenande Mfenyana, Anga Makubalo and Slindile Nodangala to Thami Mnqolo, Thato Molamu, Atandwa Kani, Nambitha Mpulwana, Patrick Swai and Seputla Sebogodi, Anga Makubalo, Mandla Gaduka, Zenande Mfenyana, Zikhona Sodlaka and Zolisa Xaluva are prepared to risk their jobs for what they believe is right.
The cast which shut down the soap in October with strike action, claims that promises to address multiple issues came to nothing 10 months later and that this time they won’t be lured back with empty promises.
“The SABC and MMSV Productions left the Generations actors little choice but to revive the strike,” says the Generations cast, saying that “nothing has been resolved”.
“We came back to work after the first strike in good faith, on the understanding that all the issues that we'd brought up would be addressed by the SABC by March 2014".
"Since then, they have missed their own deadline, and pushed the date out, with no discernable resolution to our grievances in sight".
"Instead we've been ordered back to work and threatened with dismissal, with no explanation of why our issues have not been resolved".
Going, going, gone
The Generations cast says that although the SABC promised three year contracts to all soap actors they haven’t all been given it “especially in light of the fact that the intensity of the shooting schedule means that the cast is virtually exclusively committed to Generations and effectively unable to pursue other projects".
The soap’s actors feel cheated out of royalties – the money earned from rebroadcasts when episodes are shown again and when Generations is showed in other countries. The cast claims the SABC promised to address this, saying the broadcaster said it would review the payment rates, rationalise and bring them in line with industry standards and norms".
The actors also want salary adjustments from the lucrative show which earns the SABC hundreds of millions of rand.
“This action isn't something we embarked on lightly. This is both our livelihood and our passion. Working on Generations is something we take extremely seriously – we only wish the SABC and the production house took us as seriously,” says the cast.
"We have continuously worked in good faith with them, choosing to believe that they would honour their commitments. It's unfortunate that they have failed to do that".
The soap’s stars say that they “deeply regret the inconvenience to our fans and loyal viewers” which led to the shut down of Generations and which could see the popular soap run out of available episodes – or possibly the actors finally leaving for greener pastures on other broadcasters’ shows, if not resolved.
The cast says they’ve been “threatened with dismissal” but that they “feel trongly about taking a principled stand about fundamental labour issues”, calling it “a pity” that the SABC and MMSV Productions “now seemingly choose not to deal with the cast's issues at all.”