The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) held its ordinary meeting on 29 and 30 June 2022 at the Premier Hotel in Kempton Park. The NEC manages the affairs of the Union and ensures the execution of union policies and programmes as decided by the National Congress.
The meeting was the first after the successful convening of nine provincial conferences of the union between March and May where new leaders were elected. Currently, the union is convening Regional Triennial General and Biennial General Meetings. This continues to signify that SADTU is a worker-controlled union driven by the mandate from members.
It was also the first face-to-face meeting of this structure in two years because of COVID-19 restrictions. The NEC noted the dropping of COVID-19 restrictions by government on June 22. It however, cautioned that the country was not out of the woods yet. COVID-19 remains a formidable enemy that requires highest standards of vigilance, more especially within the education sector.
The NEC deliberated and resolved on, among others: socioeconomic, labour, education and political matters that affect members as well as South Africa.
On education matters:
1. Transforming of education summit:
SADTU participated in the local consultations convened by UNICEF on behalf of UNESCO as part of preparations for the Transforming of Education Summit convened by the UN General Secretary to be held in September. SADTU made initial submissions that should inform the coming Summit.
SADTU’s main demand is a new deal for the teaching profession from pre-schooling to post schooling calling for increased investment in quality public education systems; guarantee labour rights and decent working conditions; invest in quality teacher training and professional development ;trust and respect teachers and their pedagogical expertise; involve teacher unions in policy through social dialogue.
In addition to this, SADTU has specific demands under each of the five action tracks:
Equitable, safe, and healthy schools
•Remove all cost-related barriers to education
•Guarantee students, teachers and education support personnel’s safety and wellbeing
•Gender-transformative education–teachers trained and supported to promote gender equality
Learning and skills for life, work, and sustainable development
•Invest in quality public education from early childhood through to higher education.
•Ensure education fosters critical thinking and civic engagement for a just society
•Quality climate change education for all–climate in the curricula and climate resilient schools; teacher training and support for climate education; and teacher involvement and consultation on climate education policies.
Teachers, teaching, and the teaching profession
•Invest in teachers and ensure decent working conditions to end the teacher shortage.
•Involve teachers in policy decisions through social dialogue.
•Trust teachers and respect their professional autonomy.
•Improve ECD conditions of employment through centralized bargaining
•Ensure access to digital tools for all students and teachers.
•Engage in social dialogue to ensure technology supports teachers.
•Stop the commercialization of education
Through technology and protect student and teacher data privacy.
Education financing (domestic and international)
•Increase the size and share of education funding through tax justice
•Invest in teachers and reject austerity
•Stop privatization and commercialization and ensure free quality public education for all.
2. Skilling for a changing world:
SADTU will train five hundred Master Trainers on “Unplugged Coding and Robots.” The training is part of the Teacher Union Collaboration (TUC). The training includes Digital skills, Robotics and Coding and related subjects, Artificial Intelligence, MST subjects, Entrepreneurial skills, and new subjects.
SADTU believes the “Unplugged Coding and Robotics” is one of the creative ways to orientate teachers to connect with all learners especially those in rural areas without computer devices. The five hundred master trainers will be responsible for rolling out the training of 1 5000 teachers in all nine provinces. The training will focus on:
• Orientation of teachers to introduce subject in their schools and to introduce coding in other subjects
• Demonstrating how teachers could build skills for the 21st century in other subject disciplines as a way of fulfilling expectations for the focus- “Skills for a Changing World”.
• Understanding the “thinking” processes required for coding and robotics
• Teacher Orientation and demystification of “coded” ideas.
• The employer agrees to offer a pensionable increase of 1,5 % on the baseline backdated to 1 April 2022.
The negotiations are continuing.
2.On Post Provisioning Norms
The NEC noted the stealthy conduct of the Department of Education to retrench teachers in all nine provinces by reducing the number of posts. For instance, in 2010, the Eastern Cape Education MEC declared 6 8686 posts and in 2021, 5 3605 posts were declared. This means that in ten years, 15 000 posts have been decreased leading to educators being forced to teach overcrowded classrooms as fewer teachers are employed due to in adequate posts in the system
The NEC resolved to convene a special NEC meeting to engage on the matter further.
3.The rural incentives:
The NEC described as illegal the issuing of a gazette by Basic Education Minister confirming the withdrawal of the rural incentive. The NEC resolved to launch a dispute on the deduction money paid to deserving teachers on the basis of the gazette. No province can deduct money from teachers paid for the rural incentive. No teachers must be compelled to pay back the money because the withdrawal of the policy is unlawful.
The NEC resolved to convene special chambers to address the matter and ensure educators do not pay back the monies.
4. Migration of ECD practitioners to the Department of Basic Education
The NEC raised concern at the slow pace of migrating ECD practitioners from the Department of Social Development to Basic Education. There was an indication that the function shift of ECD practitioners from the DSD and DBE was concluded by 1 April2022, but Provinces were indicating that there were still areas that needed monitoring.
This slow process was hampering progress towards ensuring that conditions of service of Grade R practitioners were addressed effectively. Currently, the public service unions are engaged in wage negotiations and ECD practitioners are not included due to the slow migration process. The NEC resolved that all the provinces must increase the payment of the Grade R with effect from 1st April 2022 to match the salary increase as negotiated in the PSCBC.
5. Organising in the TVET Sector:
The NEC expressed displeasure that the TVET Bargaining Unit has not been functional ever since TVET workers migrated from basic education to higher education department in April 2015. Not a single collective agreement has been concluded.
The non-functioning of this unit was doing untold damage to lecturers in the TVET sector as issues affecting their conditions of service were not properly dealt with. At the time of migration, the Minister of Higher Education and Training issued a communique clarifying
That issues of lecturers would be negotiated at the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) and those of the support staff would be tackled at the General Public Service Sector Bargaining Council (GPSSBC) until such time the Public Service Co-Ordinating Bargaining Council( PSCBC)made a determination. However, DHET negotiators were dealing with lecturer issues at the GPSSBC claiming that a legal opinion advised them not to negotiate at the ELRC.
In trying to mend the relations, three bilateral meetings between SADTU and DHET were arranged with the hope of thrashing out the differences, but these have not yielded positive results as the DHET continues to undermine the Union by failing to address matters raised and opts to send written responses.
The NEC resolved to confront this unlawful conduct by the DHET of concluding illegal agreements in the GBSSBC for TVET lecturers.
The DHET had removed SADTU members from stop order deductions and forced members to pay union dues by debit in order to liquidate SADTU in favour of their preferred union. SADTU will fight the DHET with everything we have to save the professional workers in the sector. SADTU further rejects any forum that is meant to violate the Labour Relations Act which sets standards for bargaining and rejects the selection of a union representative to represent other unions in the so-called consultation process because SADTU remains the majority union in the TVET sector.
This undermining by the DHET must stop now. The collusion between DHET and some unions must be exposed for what it is.
On political matters
- Forthcoming congresses of Tripartite Alliance partners
The NEC noted the upcoming national conferences of alliance partners: ANC, SACP and COSATU
The NEC said SADTU wanted to see emerging from the COSATU Congress, a Federation that would be able to advance the aspirations of the workers while defending their rights; a Federation that can be able to implement its own policies without fear or favour.
On the SACP Congress which is due in less than a week, the NEC said it was important to note that the state of the party of the workers should be linked with the relationship it has with the workers whether organized or not.
“Our observation is that the Party could be neglecting the state of the relationship it has with some of the organized worker formations including SADTU-to our profound discomfort, ”the NEC noted.
The NEC emphasized that it was of crucial importance that the SACP, as a vanguard party of the workers, sustain an optimal working relationship with the organized labour formation aligned to it as it continues to guide the working class on complex macro-political and socio-economic issues.
On the ANC National Conference, the NEC maintained that the unity of the ANC and the entire movement should remain sacrosanct and always secured as it moved towards the National Conference and the 2024 National General Elections. It was the NEC’s strong view that even though the socioeconomic conditions and realities of most of the working class were unfavourable, the movement still offered workers the only pragmatic opportunity to achieve their historical objectives with the National Democratic Revolution being a necessary phase.
NEC urged government to do everything to resolve the challenges faced by Eskom as a matter of urgency. The current loadshedding remains an albatross on all attempts for economic growth to address poverty, unemployment, and inequality. Loadshedding continues to disrupt learning and teaching. This cannot be a permanent feature of our existence.
The fuel increases are leading to the destruction of the economy and South Africa as part of BRICS must push for securing crude oil on our domestic currency rather than the dollar. The increases are unsustainable and will lead to job losses. The international body, the UN must mediate the war between Russia and Ukraine and not leave the situation to escalate because of the intransigence of the NATO alliance that is interested in power at the expense of the global peace. The global economy is heading for a recession, but the so-called rich nations are blocking the UN efforts to find an amicable solution between Russia and Ukraine.
ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat
General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 0827832968
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 0827095651
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 0827832968