The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) held its third ordinary meeting on 17 September 2021. The NEC, as a structure where the management of the affairs of the union are vested, deliberated and took decisions on organisational, educational, labour, socio-economic, political and international matters.
The meeting took place a day after public servants were paid the non-pensionable cash gratuity as provided for in PSCBC Resolution 1 of 2021. While the NEC noted and welcomed this it however, indicated this could not be fully celebrated while the Grade R practitioners have not received the cash gratuity nor any form of increase.
Grade R practitioners play a critical role in building a concrete foundation in children’s education but are treated with disdain by the employer. There is no uniformity in the conditions of service of Grade R practitioners as these are decided at provincial level. They are still not receiving full salaries but stipends while some are paid their reduced stipends by school governing bodies. In the Western Cape, salaries of Grade R practitioners are paid by schools and not through PERSAL. This makes the practitioners more vulnerable as schools look at their needs first before paying these critical and essential workers’ salaries. This cannot be allowed to continue because if we talk of equal pay for equal work and equal qualification, the Grade R practitioners are still not enjoying this provision.
The NEC further noted that Grade R practitioners were being dealt an injustice as they are not part of negotiations at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC). Even though they are not part of formal structures, Grade R practitioners are public servants in the education sphere and they therefore should not be discriminated against.
In other provinces, Grade R practitioners do not feel secure in their jobs as they are subjected to renewing their contracts every year for the same position. They are fraught with insecurity every end of year not knowing what will happen to them the following year. They are subjected to abuse by people who are in charge of these contracts who behave as they please. The NEC vowed that the union will do all to ensure that the practitioners are not subjected to this treatment come January next year.
The NEC further resolved to continue to put more political pressure to ensure the harmonization and formalization of conditions of service of Grade R practitioners.
The NEC further resolved to take the matter to the Education Labour Relations Council and advocate for a binding agreement to have the salaries of Grade R practitioners paid through PERSAL.
On budget cuts and job losses
The NEC raised concerns about the austerity measures that are being brought through the back door without a popular mandate. The union has seen this in the education sector with, for instance, in KwaZulu Natal Department of Education announcing that its budget would be cut by no less that R6,4 billion over the next financial year. This could adversely affect the employment of no less than 6114 education workers and education support personnel. The learners cannot be denied the right to education because of austerity measures. Austerity measures are cause of instability and the education system cannot be subjected to any form of instability because our learners have already suffered huge time losses and trauma due to the pandemic.
To grow an inclusive and sustainable economy that will create decent jobs for all, means we cannot allow any austerity measures in education because SDG8 which is about decent jobs requires global competencies and this is only achievable if we invest in the SDG4 which deals with education. The NEC agreed with UN Secretary General who asserted that we need a positive outlook based on solidarity and cooperation to secure a better, sustainable, peaceful and secure future for people and the planet with a renewed social contract. The NEC agreed that in his Report, the UN General Secretary has laid out the challenge with a clear and comprehensive agenda with sustainability and social and economic justice at its heart.
The recent quarterly labour report indicates that a significant number of jobs have been lost and this trend has been re-enforced by the COVID pandemic.
On COVID 19 and management of cases in schools
The NEC called on the Department of Basic Education to align and update COVID 19 protocols with those of the Department Employment and Labour. In the Free State province, teachers who have exhausted their sick leave are subjected to leave with no pay if they quarantine after testing positive or have come into close contact with persons who have tested positive. The Free State Department of education is creating a crisis and is violating the law and must stop the practice with immediate effect. The Union will not hesitate to act against any employer that violate the provisions of PAM and Disaster Management Act.
The NEC criticised such as conduct. It is an unfair labour practise as the law allowed workers to apply for temporary incapacity leave if they have exhausted their normal sick leave.
The conduct by the employer was causing teachers to hide their status and this will spread the virus in our communities. The NEC demands that any leave without pay implemented by the Free State Education department be reversed with immediate effect.
The NEC accepted that the pandemic remains our reality with the delta variant still causing a real threat to our people. The NEC committed to continue to encourage all members of society including the learners to get vaccinated so that we can reach the required level of protection projected by scientists to be 80% of the population. “We need to defeat anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists with accurate information that can be accessible to all,” the NEC committed
Matters affecting the TVET Colleges and all the other education sub-sectors
The 9th SADTU National Congress took a resolution to establish more focused and education sub/vulnerable sector-based servicing strategies.
To this end, the Union has developed programme to guide provinces in implementing this key decision of the Union. It is envisaged that the programme will be completed by the second week of October 2021.
The Union is working towards hosting a TVET colloquium. Some of the issues the colloquium will deliberate on include, among others, progress on the policy on Post Provisioning Norms, non-recognition of qualifications, the appointment and payment of markers, non-payment of housing allowance and the launching of branch and sites structures.
SADTU will host a virtual celebration of Heritage Day on 24 September 2021 to recognise and celebrate the diverse cultural wealth of our nation through poetry, storytelling, drama, and indigenous game from across all provinces.
School calendar for 2023 and 2024
The NEC endorsed a formal call for a review of the school calendar policy to make the necessary amendment for future calendars to accommodate the early closure of schools in the fourth term in the first week of December and a single calendar for both inland and coastal clusters.
On labour matters
SADTU will take part in the National Day of Action that is called and led by COSATU on 7 October. COSATU has served a notice at NEDLAC, in terms of Section 77 (1), of the intention to proceed with protest action. The day will be marked across provinces. They will choose forms of demonstrations. Issues to be highlight will include a campaign against corruption, job losses and retrenchments, attacks on collective bargaining agreements, fight against Gender Based Violence and the ratification of Convention 190, health and safety at workplaces which include COVID 19 protocols and vaccines.
On international matters
The NEC reiterated the Union’s resolve to continue to support the people of Cuba against the United States of America (US) blockade which has seen the use of economic sanctions and mercenaries by the US government to try and provoke an uprising in Cuba. The blockade has deepened the strain on the people of Cuba reducing opportunities for imports of food, medical supplies and fuel and therefore created a humanitarian crisis. The NEC resolved to use, from the Union’s solidarity fund, to contribute towards filling up of the humanitarian container initiated by the Alliance to provide aid to Cuba.
SADTU, as part of the Tripartite Alliance, took part in the Swaziland Global Week from 6 to 10 September in support of the struggle for the emancipation of Swazi people from the shackles of the monarchy and for the democratization of their country.
On local government elections
As SADTU is an affiliate of COSATU which is part of the Tripartite Alliance, the NEC reiterated the union’s commitment to offer practical support to the ANC by campaigning in defense and deepening democracy as we move towards the local government elections. The NEC further committed defend of the National Democratic Revolution because workers have a right to cote and defend their gains. “Our reality is that, under the ANC government, we have seen real and tangible change in the lives of our people. A significant number of South Africans have received access to housing, electricity, water, roads infrastructure, healthcare and the list goes on. We cannot deny the fact that progress has been made and this is despite some obstacles that we have faced collectively like the 2008/9 economic melt-down and of late the devastating COVID pandemic,’’ the NEC noted.
On COSATU Central Committee meeting
The NEC indicated the Union’s readiness to take part in the COSATU Central Committee (CC) that is due to sit from Monday 20 to 23. The Central Committee adopts general and specific policy measures which further the aims and objectives of the Federation by means of resolutions between national congresses.
The NEC said it hoped the CC would adopt resolutions that would strengthen the Federation’s adopted stance on social unionism, which is developmental, caring, ethical, inclusive, and oriented to serving the people of the country.
SADTU will present proposed motions on the following areas to be debated and resolved on at the Central Committee meeting:
1. The economic, reconstruction and recovery plan; protection of jobs – no to retrenchments.
2. Declaration of war against corruption in the public and private sector and wasteful expenditure in the public service.
3. Establishment of a national information and communication technology advisory committee.
4. The future of work: work under Covid 19 and the new normal education and new skills.
5. Mandatory vaccination.
6. Building of a state-owned pharmaceutical company.
7. Free healthcare for all – finalisation of discussion on the National Health Insurance.
8. Advancement of transformation of tertiary education.
9. Defending collective bargaining and worker rights prioritising areas such as medical, housing and bursary schemes for workers and their children.
10. Gender based violence: barbarism and killing of children and women.
11. Moral decay: renewing and rebuilding our society.
12. Repurposing the education system for the country’s transformation agenda.
13. International solidarity: focus on the momentum in Swaziland and the blockade of Cuba and the US government.
14. Fragmentation of industries and workplaces, and impact the on organisation.
ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat
General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157