The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU), the biggest union in the education and public sector, notes the State of the Nation Address delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa last night (11 February 2021).
We welcome the attempts and commitment of government to deal with the pandemic more robustly; we urge them to be more transparent and provide the nation with more information on a regular basis to avoid confusion and anxiety caused by fake information.
We also welcome the President’s stance on corruption. We are however calling for more and visible action than commitment. We need to move from intention to action on this question as it adversely affects the poor and the working class. We need to focus on corruption in the public service but we should not ignore corruption in the Private Sector. The Private sector should not be seen as being untouchable when it comes to dealing decisively with corruption. For instance, we are still waiting for some arrest on the Steinhof matter that stole money from the pensions of public servants.
Furthermore, we welcome the move for a Social Compact on Eskom as this was, in the main, a proposal from Labour. We urge Eskom to get its house in order and address all challenges and avoid the destructive load-shedding that has become our regular reality.
SADTU welcomes the call to appoint qualified personnel at local government, but the challenges at the local government are more than just qualified personnel. There are systemic challenges that should be attended at that level.
The Union notes and welcomes the extension of the R350 grant relief fund. We urge our government to consider the demand of Labour and Civil society organizations for a Basic Income grant. It is equally commendable that there is a commitment and funding on another pandemic which is Gender-Based Violence. We call on society to rally behind this campaign by exposing the culprits and defending the victims.
One of the main casualties of the COVID 19 pandemic is schooling. Schools had to close down for months on end in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus. Millions of Rands had to be spent to procure PPE’s and provide basics such as water and ablution facilities in order to ensure the safety of educators, learners, and education support personnel in our schools. The pandemic also again brought to the fore, the disparities that exist in our education system. As public schools prepare to open their doors to millions of learners on Monday the 15th of February, we were expecting the President to announce a stimulus package for education to level the playing field and mitigate against the effects of the pandemic.
The second joint teacher union survey on school readiness completed by school principals in February in anticipation of schools opening on 15 February has shown that 57% of schools are confident they can comply with all COVID 19 protocols. This is a 10% shift from the 47% that was recorded in the first survey done in January. We commend the School Management Teams, educators and education support personnel who have done their best to ensure that their schools are provided with the resources.
Having welcomed the priority to drive economic recovery and employment of qualified personnel at local government level, we call upon government to ensure that collective agreements such as Collective Agreement 1 of 2018 are protected
We reiterate the dangers of undermining the constitutional right of workers to organize themselves into unions, elect their leaders and getting into wage agreements with their employers. Undermining of collective bargaining is tantamount to promoting anarchy, which is a serious threat to stability of our country and economic development.
We urge government to avoid being bullied by Rating Agencies, World Bank and the IMF on the question of cutting the wage bill and destruction of collective bargaining. This will have serious implications for any intention to achieve a development state and improving services to our people.
Our government should ignore the Congress resolution of the Democratic Alliance to cut the wage bill and the lie that the public service is bloated and workers should be retrenched.
The silence of the President on progress towards realizing the NHI is concerning. The pandemic has provided us with the best opportunity to address the challenges of our health sector and introduce the NHI which will prioritize health as a human right and not a commodity for profit maximization.
We also stand opposed to the privatization of Eskom, an idea that is being championed by the Democratic Alliance. The workers must know that this idea of privatization means retrenchments, cuts in wages and very high prices of electricity which will affect the poor and the working class.
ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat
General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651
Secretariat Officer, Xolani Fakude: 071 355 1566
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157