Satellite to increase Fedusa’s reach

Thousands of members of the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) are expected to tune in to an exclusive interactive satellite broadcast called Labour Talk, on Thursday.

Labour Talk is an initiative that aims to give Fedusa members and role-players within the labour environment — across the whole country — the opportunity to get together, and at the same time, and share information, as well as engage in debate around pertinent labour issues.

Global Access SA, a satellite operator specialising in corporate communication and training by means of satellite-based technology, is responsible for supplying the ICT infrastructure, platform and making the broadcast possible. “We are extremely proud to be involved, in conjunction with Fedusa, in such a ground-breaking national event," says John Hefer, COO at Global Access SA.

Says Chez Milani, general secretary of Fedusa: “This is a new form of communication we are exploring in conjunction with Global Access SA, which I think is very important for the labour environment. In this environment the greatest problem is getting messages to trade unions and people at grass roots level, and this satellite broadcast could just be the answer to this problem."

“Information sharing and proactive debate play a key role in Fedusa and society as a whole, says Milani, “Global Access’ tool offers us the opportunity to speak to our members and other interested parties across the country, while getting immediate feedback and input from them.

During the session, viewers and the studio audience will be able to pose their questions to the panel on the various issues.

Hefer quickly points out that communicating with a selected audience via satellite through special business broadcasts, does not replace traditional communication methods such as email, newsletters and road shows. “It does, however, offer a very cost-effective and highly efficient supplement," he says.

He emphasizes that the security of broadcasts should always be completely water-tight, to prevent the message reaching unregistered viewers.

“The broadcasts from our studios, for example, are secured by means of activating the client’s unique smart card that is an integral part of a digital satellite decoder. This means that only designated users within an organisation can tune in to a broadcast," he says.

Milani, however, is concerned. “The DSTV model being used might pose some problems in terms of who will in fact be able to tune in to the broadcast, but I believe that this can be overcome," he adds.

Milani adds that the potential of this medium is limitless and that the federation is looking into ways of using satellite communication to educate and empower workers in future initiatives of this kind. “This is only a pilot project and, based on the outcome, we might invest in this kind of thing more often. Costs need to be justified in the end and this kind of communication is not cheap. I do, however, believe that it might be more cost-effective than flying people up and down all the time to attend meetings. An additional benefit is that you reach a wider audience."

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