SADTU holds its first ordinary national executive committee meeting in 2023

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) had its first ordinary meeting for the year 2023 in Boksburg on the 28th and 29th of March. The meeting convened after several special executive committee meetings since February to deal with wage negotiations for the 2023/2024 financial cycle.

Convened in March: Human Rights month, the NEC meeting paid homage to the 69 people who were killed and 180 injured at the hands of apartheid police on the 21st of March 1960 while protesting the Pass Laws. Their fight was also for the basic human rights that are today embedded in the country’s Constitution. These rights include the right to universal access to quality public education for all, the right for both learners and education workers to teach and learn in a safe environment and the right to freedom of association that extends to collective bargaining and the protected autonomy of our Union.

On the right to access education as a human right, the NEC commended the National Senior Certificate (Matric) Class of 2022 for the sterling 80.1% pass rate and the increased number of quality passes from the no-fee paying schools. This pass was made possible through the sacrifice of both the learners and teachers who had to work overtime to compensate for the time lost during the Covid 19 pandemic. The NEC deliberated and resolved on the following matters:

On organisational matters :

The NEC noted that the Union’s stability and unity which is reflected in membership growth. As at the end of December 2022, the Union recorded a membership of 267 000. In line with the Union’s 2030 Vision pillar of servicing union members, SADTU has prioritised membership representation and enrolled all Full Time Shop Stewards on a Labour Law course including some of the courses offered by the Ditsela Workers’ Education Institute. SADTU is sharpening her internal monitoring mechanisms through enhancing our case management instrument to trace and track progress of all cases. The NEC will roll out a national programme to visit regions as part of organizational renewal and monitoring with specific attention to membership service, representation, and case management.

As part of celebrating our culture and heritage, the Union shall host a National Choral Festival in October in Durban, KwaZulu Natal. Music is one of the most powerful tools for unity and nation building as it can be used to communicate key messages on our history, indigenous knowledge systems and heritage. This national event will be preceded by branch, regional and provincial festivals.

2023/24 wage negotiations:

The NEC noted the toxic climate within which the 2023/24 wage negotiations have been taking place. The minority of unions in the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council declared they would not engage in the negotiations until their demand for the reviewal of 2022 wage agreement was met while the majority unions including SADTU continued with negotiations. SADTU’s decision to engage in negotiations has led to its members, leadership and more particularly the General Secretary being vilified, shamed, and attacked by those who chose to boycott the negotiations.

The NEC noted the silence of our Federation, COSATU in the face of the onslaught against SADTU for taking part in the 2023/24 wage negotiations. All nine provinces have since February held various meetings – from site to provincial levels to provide mandate on the current wage negotiations.

The final offer was again taken to members and who engaged in various meetings between the 19th and 24th of March and mandates were consolidated at regional and provincial levels. The NEC held a special meeting on the 26th of March to receive all provincial mandates.

The NEC, based on a unanimous decision from provinces, resolved to respect the mandates from members to accept the final offer and mandated the National Working Committee to sign the draft collective agreement.

The NEC took a decision to develop a schedule to push for the conclusion of outstanding matters such as the housing allowance, medical aid scheme and withdrawal from pension by members.

Further, the NEC resolved that the Union would monitor the implementation of Pay Progression.

On Educational matters:

The Union is actively participating in consultation forums convened by the Department of Basic Education and the South African Council for Educators (SACE) regarding the National Induction Framework for new teachers.

The NEC raised concern about the slow and uneven progress in ensuring the shift of Early Childhood Development (ECD) from the Department of Social Development to the Department of Basic Education. The NEC commended all provinces who have made progress towards improving the salaries of ECD practitioners. They condemned the other provinces that have not improved and more specifically, the Eastern Cape province who are refusing to appoint almost 300 qualified ECD practitioners. The NEC warned the DBE senior officials who have been frustrating the Grade R matter for their personal egos. The Grade R matters are now receiving attention after the union has written a strong worded letter to the Basic Education Director General and copied the Minister. The NEC noted that there was a tendency by these senior officials (DDGs) to use the issues affecting hard working Grade Rs to settle their petty political scores with the union. SADTU will never tolerate such unprofessional behavior by these senior officials (DDGs). Victory for Grade R matters is certain.

The NEC also commended the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) who are in deep discussions regarding the universalisation and professionalisation of Grade R matters including those of Early Childhood Development.

The NEC further warned the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) negotiators not to provoke the union by coming to the TVET Bargaining Unit to display arrogance and contempt towards the workers in the sector. This tendency will be dealt with decisively and effectively in the best interest of the employees and the students in the sector.

Safety in schools

The NEC raised concern about the increasing numbers of violence and robberies in schools since the beginning of the 2023 academic year. KwaZulu-Natal was the most affected. In some of these robberies, the robbers came with speed point machines and forced teachers to swipe their cards. A branch chairperson was shot but survived in a similar incident in Sweetwaters, Pietermaritzburg.

Four perpetrators have been arrested in Pinetown and one arrested in Pietermaritzburg.

Five schools could not function around Inkandla as principals were threatened by community members who closed access roads to schools demanding service delivery from government. In KwaMaphumulo, community members chased away teachers who are not from the area demanding the employment of local graduates.

The NEC warned that these incidents may have a negative effect in the psychological wellbeing of teachers and the delivery of education as teachers in the affected schools are requesting to be transferred to other districts because they feel unsafe. This may lead to closure of some schools as there would be no teachers prepared to teach in such schools.

The NEC lamented the slow pace in providing psychosocial services to educators as well as the learners by the Department of Basic education and resolved to redouble the Union’s internal wellbeing programme. The NEC further called upon the communities through the “I Am a School Fan” campaign to get organized and work with law enforcement agencies to root out these criminal acts in the best interest of the teaching force and learners. We commend the bravery of our members who refused to be bullied and assisted in the apprehension of some of these gangs.

Socio-Political and Economic Developments:

The NEC noted the challenge of electricity supply as one of the biggest challenges the country has faced as a constitutional democracy. The NEC resolved to call for a special dispensation for no-fee and low-income schools to facilitate access to alternative energy supply resources and not for schools to rely on their norms and standards budgets for this purpose.

International Developments:

SADTU formed part of the Education International High-Level Commission that visited the Kingdom of Eswatini on 23rd March 2023. Education International is a global education workers federation with more than 32 million members. The Mission was able to meet the education minister, principal secretary of cabinet, education public service. There was commitment to work with SNAT to resolve problems. The meeting also secured the permanent employment of the teachers who have been temporary for almost ten years through an accelerated programme over a period of two years. SADTU is continuing to work with SNAT and the eSwatini federation.

The NEC expressed solidarity with the people of South-East Africa namely Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar whose lives have been devastated by Cyclone Freddy which began in February. More than 500 people have died and tens of thousands have been left homeless. The full socio-economic impact of the cyclone in the region is yet to be felt and undoubtedly, this will spill over into South Africa.

The NEC condemned the double standards by the Western allies and their media for using half truths about the war in Ukraine. The proxy war must be stopped, the United Nations must mediate a cessation of hostilities and all agreements between Russia and the Western allies be implemented. The warrant of arrest for the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for allegedly committing war crimes in Russia’s ongoing conflict with Ukraine or more appropriately with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is an injustice and must be rejected. BRICS has invited Putin to the 15th BRICS meeting scheduled to take place in August in the country.

The NEC accused Western powers of using the ICC to further their own political agenda and bring South Africa into the fore of their conflict with Russia. South Africa cannot afford to strain relations with Russia and other BRICS member countries at the behest of the United States-led NATO through the ICC.

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat

CONTACT: General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968

                    Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651

For media comments call:             

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