No pay, no work strike at Muvhango
studios allegedly came to a standstill for four days as angry actors and support staff downed tools on Monday after their salaries were not paid.
Production company Word of Mouth Pictures, owned by Duma Ndlovu, failed to pay the crew their September salaries last Friday.
Sunday World was told that actors and staff including make-up artists, scriptwriters, wardrobe managers and cameramen embarked on a stayaway from Monday to Thursday and refused to shoot all the upcoming episodes unless their salaries were immediately paid.
Ndlovu repudiate claims of a strike, saying the company had sent cast members text messages telling them not to come to work because there was no money to pay them.
Our contract with the SABC expired in August, and without a new contract there is no money to pay actors. I have said this before. I still don’t have a new contract,” said Ndlovu.
He said the SABC gave him a letter committing to sign the new contract by the end of this month. He then took the letter to his bank which gave him funds to pay the actors.
I have paid all my actors. We sent them SMS messages again telling them that they can come to work. There was no strike,” Ndlovu said.
Sources at the soapie, however, said the crew only returned to work on Thursday after former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng made special arrangements for the actors to be paid.
SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago refused to comment on this saying: This has nothing to do with the SABC because we are not responsible for paying actors’ salaries.
Their employer, which is Word of Mouth Pictures, is responsible for that. So, that is a matter between an employee and employer and must be sorted out by the two of them.”
Three cast members confirmed they had embarked on a strike on Monday.
A cast member, who refused to be named for fear of reprisal, said lead actress Sindi Dlathu was the first to storm out of the studio and left for home after protesting about the nonpayment of her salary.
She asked the producers why she didn’t get her September salary and all of them didn’t say anything. I think she thought she was the only one who was not paid and wanted some explanation from them.
But when other actors told her that they too were not paid she stormed out and left and the rest of the actors followed suit.”
Another member lambasted Ndlovu for their calamity. This is happening for the third or fourth time now. So Word of Mouth lives from hand-tomouth? Why can’t Duma create reserves so that he can pay salaries when there is a delay?” Ndlovu, however, said
could not continue production without a contract from the SABC, as the soapie is produced exclusively for the public broadcaster.
He said crew members would get their new contracts once the SABC had signed on the dotted line.
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