XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX SADTU Free State Media Statement Post Provincial Conference | South African Democratic Teachers Union

SADTU Free State Media Statement Post Provincial Conference

8 May 2017

The South African Democratic Teachers' Union in the Free State province, held its successful 7th Provincial Conference on the 4th - 6th May 2017 in Parys at Woodland Lodge. The conference was attended by delegates from all the six regions representing 53 branches.

The conference was addressed by the Alliance partners of COSATU, SACP and ANC. The Federation was represented by the Provincial Chairperson, Comrade Xolisile Qayiso, SACP by the 2nd Deputy General Secretary, Comrade Solly Maphaila and ANC by the Provincial Chairperson, Comrade Ace Magashule. We further appreciated the attendance of the conference by the Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT) represented by its General Secretary, Comrade Thaabe Kulehile.

The conference deliberated on critical issues of organisational, socio-economic, education and political nature. We were in agreement that the current political conjuncture needs a united alliance more than ever.

The delegates took serious exception on the conduct of some few educators who still engage in sexual relationships with learners and resolved that serious action should be taken against such individuals who bring the profession into disrepute.

As part of the responsibility of the conference the following office bearers were elected:

Provincial Chairperson : Lucy Matsipa
Deputy Chairperson : Gape Legopo
Provincal Secretary : Mokholoane Moloi
Deputy Secretary : Ntombizanele Sifuba
Provincial Treasurer : Kennedy Khantwane
Education Convenor : Ditabe Motsoeneng
Gender Convenor :    Matshediso Matsheka
Sports, Arts & Culture Convenor: Mamahase Mohale

THE DECLARATION OF 7TH PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE

We, the 137 delegates to this 7th Provincial Conference, representing over 16,000 members of SADTU in the Province, convened under the National Congress theme; "Restore the Character of SADTU as a Union of Revolutionary Professionals, Agents of Change and Champions of People's Education for People's Power in pursuit of Socialism", gathered in Parys at Woodlands Country Lodge.

In emulating our fallen heroes and heroines Chris Hani, Oliver Tambo, Thabo Mofutsanyana, Fezile Dabi, Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro, Ahmed Kathrada and other revolutionaries, we believe that it is only through quality public education that we can fight back against the stranglehold of poverty, unemployment and inequality. We acknowledge that we have a cardinal role to play towards advancing the National Democratic Revolution.

The dedication and commitment that they displayed towards the upliftment of our people inspires us to strive even harder to be revolutionary professionals within the education sector. We commit to play a positive role towards strengthening and uniting our Union; ultimately we commit to play a positive role towards the emancipation of the African working class child.

One of the most noble objectives of the Freedom Charter is "People's Education for People's Power". This was a call to prioritise the education of the disenfranchised and poor majority. It is a call that we are aligned to and we are committed to using our site of struggle, the classroom to advance it.

In line with our current Congress adopted theme, we will conduct ourselves as professionals at all times and we will always put the aspirations of the African working class chid at the centre.

We note that the national education landscape has features that are glaringly inconsistent with the national objective for quality public education. We have historic and chronic challenges that affect our system negatively and that makes it difficult if not impossible to achieve the desired education outcomes.

Whilst some of these challenges are as a result of years of oppression of the majority, some are as a direct consequence of leadership deficiencies within the movement and state.

Some of these challenges are related to over-crowding and unhealthy teacher to learner ratio in our schools. As delegates to this conference we demand that the Department of Basic Education employs more educators and addresses the infrastructure shortage as a matter of urgency. The same urgency must be applied to supporting staff in schools that have not filled the vacancies.

We accept that our country is currently undergoing some unprecedented challenges directly informed by the nature of the leadership at the helm of our country. We are prepared to work even harder to unite our movement and to move our country forward. We want to make an impassioned plea to the leaders of the African National Congress to ensure that their actions seek to unite and not divide the oldest liberation movement on the continent.

We are concerned about the government's adherence to the current neo-liberal paradigm; its preoccupation with reducing the budget deficit to pacify ratings agencies will not resolve the current economic crisis. This is happening at a time when the cost of living has been rising with severe impact on poor households. We believe in the call for radical economic transformation provided that this is real and tangible transformation meant to emancipate the poor and the working class.

We noted that the three year salary increment agreement with the employer is expiring and that negotiations are due to begin. As the delegates to this conference we commit ourselves to the road map that has been developed by the union for the mandate seeking process. We believe that ours is a worker controlled Union and the mandate from members on the ground is the main driving force for our actions.

It is our view that as we enter into the negotiations this year, there must be certain demands that we must continue to bring before the employer. These are the demands that we think as a Union we should be prepared to fight even harder for. We will not retreat as we seek to improve our conditions of service. We are deeply concerned with the lack of implementation by the employer of ELRC and PSCBC resolutions. We will no longer tolerate the disregard of resolutions meant to ensure labour peace and we will intensify our struggle against the employer in this regard.

We will intensify our call for 0.5% parity for educators. We find it unacceptable that whilst education is considered as the government's main priority, not enough is being done to ensure realisation of this objective.

We believe that we have to intensify our fight for Government Employees Housing Scheme (GEHS); in our views, this is the real radical economic transformation we want to see. The ability for one to provide shelter is not a luxury but a necessity. We believe that the employer must utilise innovative strategies to ensure that we access funding for housing purposes.

We demand that the employer reviews how our pension funds within Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and the Government Employees Pension Funds (GEPF) are invested and ultimately assist us to access funding for housing at reasonable rates. To facilitate this radical shift, we are calling for the restructuring of the highest decision making structure of the PIC, such that no less than 60% of those in its board represent the workers.

Furthermore; we want to condemn in the strongest terms possible the practices adopted by Provincial Department to delay or just not pay the housing allowances and to delay the payments to some teachers particularly those employed on a temporary basis. We will no longer accept such inconveniences and will confront the employer with our entire might. We are calling for decisive action to be taken against incompetent department officials that compromise our livelihood and consequently our well being.

We are driven by our 2030 vision, a vision that directs us to prioritise member service and to grow the organisation. We are committed to implementing all the strategic pillars of our vision with precision for the sake of our members and the future generations of education workers that will inherit our Union.

As the delegates to this conference, we demand a complete review of the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS). It is our view that the scheme no longer serves its intended purpose and instead prioritises profit maximization over our health as public servants. The costs of this medical scheme are escalating at an alarming rate whilst its benefits decline drastically to our detriment as public servants. Whilst calling for a complete review of GEMS, we are calling on the government to move with the required speed and implement the next phase of the National Health Insurance (NHI).

On the education front, we note that once again there are regressive policy proposals from the employer. One of those is e-marking. We are vehemently opposed to this move because it will defeat the purpose of marking and educators will not play an active role within memo discussions. Such a move will reduce the role that we play in the education of our learners to a bare minimum. We also believe that the real intention behind such a proposal is to provide a platform for more business to enter the basic education space and make maximum profit.

Furthermore, we note the newly introduced policy on modularisation. We firmly believe that learning barriers are evident and exposed at primary school level already and that modularisation will not assist in any way. This is linked to the "second chance programme". The programme may have good intentions but its unintended consequences outweigh the benefits. The programme is not supported with adequate resourcing but is another attempt to involve private business within the education value chain.

Our view is that these policies will not add value in education. Our strategic focus must be on Early Childhood Development (ECD). This is an educationally sound intervention and it is one that will improve our education outcomes. We are calling for increased resource investment in ECD and for greater formalisation of the sector. The conditions of service of ECD practitioners must significantly be improved urgently in line with the National Development Plan. It is for this reason that we will improve our strategies to organise and service ECD practitioners as a Union of all education workers.

We will apply the same approach to TVET lecturers. They remain exposed to unfavourable conditions of service. We will fight for their bargaining rights which are being frustrated by the employer at this juncture. We will work even harder to organise in this sector and will ensure maximum member service to those affiliated to the Union.

Through "Operation Mayibuye" we will focus on TVET Colleges considering the challenges related to migration and others. We are committed to servicing these sectors and to ensure that their conditions of service improve drastically.

As a mechanism to strengthen our Union, we will work on servicing members more efficiently and effectively. Members are the basic nucleus of the Union and servicing them is the main reason for its existence. We will continue to locate them at the very centre of our daily actions as a Union.

We remain committed to COSATU. We acknowledge that the Federation is undergoing some challenges currently. Opportunistic elements see our challenges in the Federation as an advantage towards establishing alternative organisations.

However, we are unperturbed. It is our strong view that COSATU remains the only home and hope for the workers in South Africa. We will fight to unite and rebuild our Federation. We will strengthen our relations with Alliance structures through COSATU and all organisations that form part of the Progressive Youth Alliance.

Conclusion

We are re-energised as members and our commitment towards our organisation and its members. Our unity is sacrosanct and we will defend it with all our might. We will focus on strategies towards servicing our members including those in the vulnerable sector such as the ECD, AET and TVET Colleges

We remain a member driven Union and will represent their aspirations with utmost dedication.

Issued by Provincial Secretariat

Contact:

Mokholoane Moloi:    Provincial Secretary : 076 811 2777
Ntombizanele Sifuba: Deputy Secretary : 079 691 7358