The 2019 budget sacrifices public service in order to please business and ratings agencies

21 February 2019

The South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), the largest union in the education sector, finds it hard to accept the 2019 budget speech which seeks to undermine and overburden the public service. The public service has become the sacrificial lamb in order to appease ratings agencies and business.

The Budget has confirmed our worst fears since the tabling of the mid-term budget statement four months ago when Minister Tito Mboweni pointed out that the public service wage bill remained the budget's biggest cost pressure.

It further proves true, what the Government has been denying all along, that it will shed 30 000 jobs in the public service. The early pensions to be offered to older public servants is nothing but sugar-coated jobs shedding. Removing older public servants who have invaluable experience will deplete the intellectual capital of the public service which is needed as we build a developmental state. This will lead to further weakening and demoralisation of public servants. We sincerely believe that in order to build a truly developmental state that can serve people adequately, we need strengthened and motivated public servants.

To make matters worse, following offers for early retirement, government will in time limit overtime, bonus payments as well and pay progression. This situation creates a bleak picture, more especially for teachers, who have for years been fighting for a 1, 5% pay progression in line with other public servants and made some headway in the 2018 when an agreement was reached that the equalisation process would be phased in 2018 and 2019. We sincerely hope that the Minister's announcement will not take away the gains we have clinched.

As a union in the education sector, our members are groaning under the yoke of teaching overcrowded classrooms. From this budget, this situation is not likely to improve.

On Education

We welcome the R30 billion to be allocated to build new schools and an additional R2, 8 billion to replace pit latrines. However, we reiterate that this is long overdue. We are surprised that the Budget speech was silent on Government's plans to overhaul the education system in order to adopt the Fourth Industrial Revolution as espoused by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his State of the National Address.

President Ramaphosa said that in the next six years, educators and learners will be trained to respond to emerging technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence.

On Eskom

We are appalled by the arrogance of Minister Mboweni when he simply reiterated the Government's intention to unbundle Eskom into three entities despite the countrywide marches by COSATU-affiliated unions a week ago against this move. He did not allude to the march nor give clarity to allay the fears of workers which were raised during the marches.

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat

CONTACT:

General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi