The demands the actors were making included salary increases, royalty payments and better working conditions.

After a lengthy discussion with the SABC, which broadcasts the show, the actors were told to return to work on Monday or face termination of their contracts.

Yesterday when the actors refused to go back to work, MMSV productions was left with no choice, but to end their working relationship with the actors, who include Zolisa Xaluva, Menzi Ngubane, Katlego Danke, Nambitha Mpumlwana and Thami Mngqolo.

Speaking to EyeWitness News, Bulelani Mzamo, the lawyer representing the actors  said they would now be taking the matter to court.

Since actors are regarded as freelancers and not permanent employees we asked a labour law expert about the validity of the actors’ case, especially when it comes to unfair dismissal.

Khomotso Makapane, a partner at Bowman Gilfillan an employment law firm, said each and every employee had the right to take action for unfair dismissal, but they must comply with the definition of what an ‘employee’ is.

“The law differentiates between an employee and a freelancer. If they are not employees they cannot be fired. If they had independent contracts, then they acted in breach of the contract. Therefore the court may entertain a dispute of unfair termination of contract under the common law,” he says.

If they are not employees they cannot be fired. If they had independent contracts, then they acted in breach of the contract

If they failed to meet the terms of the contract, then the labour court or the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration cannot protect them. 

He adds that if the actor’s conduct amounted to a breach of the terms of the contract with MMSV productions, then the company is entitled by law to terminate their contracts.

Speaking to Talk Radio 702’s Xolani Gwala on Monday, the creator of Generations’ Mfundi Vundla said there was no turning back and they had no plans to bring back the actors. Vundla said they had pleaded with them to return to work, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.

Vundla said they were running a business and did not have time to play games with the actors. He also said that they had accepted that they [the actors] have refused to perform services to Generations, which is the reason they terminated the contracts with the soapie stars.

The Creative Workers Union slammed and criticised the soapie’s management and the public broadcaster. They said it was wrong for any employer to sack workers for raising concerns about their working conditions.

“[The union] is dismayed again at the continued arrogance exuded by Generations management in collaboration with SABC,” acting-General Secretary Eugene Mthethwa said in a statement.

Additional reporting: Sapa