4 June 2019
The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU), the largest union in the public service sector, held a successful National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting scheduled for 31 May to 1 June, 2019 at SADTU Village in Kempton Park.
One of the highlights of the NEC meeting was the announcement that the Union has been granted a licence to have its own savings and credit co-operative (SACCO) in terms of the Co-operative Banks Act 40 of 2007. This has come after years of hard work by the Union having submitted the application for registration on 17 November, 2017.
A SACCO is a member-owned co-operative banking institution that is 100% owned and controlled by its members who use its banking services. The granting of this license means members of SADTU have achieved what was envisaged by the champion of Black Consciousness Movement, Steven Bantu Biko; “Black people shall be free when they own their financial institutions.”
The Committee also deliberated on the theme of the Union’s upcoming 9th Congress to be held from 25 to 28 September at Nasrec Conference Centre.
The NEC meeting was the first after the country held the national general elections. The meeting provided a platform to reflect on the elections.
The NEC noted that even though the ANC came out victorious, the elections were one of the most difficult since the dawn of democracy in 1994 as the Movement was beset by organisational challenges like factionalism, corruption allegations and failure to implement adopted progressive policies.
Despite the high numbers of people who had registered as voters, the turnout at the polls was low and the number of young eligible voters who cast their votes continued to decline.
As much as the country had its expectations on the elections, institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, equally had interest in the path the country was going to take and this would not make things easier for the workers of our country. The NEC then called on the newly elected President Cyril Ramaphosa not to be desperate to attract Foreign Direct Investment by appeasing the ratings agencies that are the bastion of neo-liberal macro-economic policies, at the expense of workers and the poor.
On Education matters/labour matters:
General Education Certificate
The NEC resolved to develop a paper on the Union’s position on the General Education Certificate and generate input from all structures of the Union. The Department of Basic Education wants to introduce the General Education Certificate where Grade 9’s will be subjected to external examinations. Learners will have to choose their streams based on their performance in Grade 9. The NEC noted that the Three-Streams Model was not ready for implementation.
Early Childhood Development and Grade R practitioners.
The Union has observed the deliberate delay by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to implement the ANC and NDP directives on the universalization and formalization of Early Childhood Development (ECD) and Grade R.
The wages of Grade R practitioners is a cause for concern when they are doing the most important work in the building of the nation. They are subjected to intolerable and abhorrent conditions at the workplace. They work without knowing whether they will receive a salary at the end of the month and without benefits such as UIF and pension.
The Union believes that the sector must be formalized with immediate effect in order to address the conditions of service affecting employees. The Union believes that collective bargaining is a key measure to reduce inequality of income and wealth. During the elections campaign, Minister Motshekga stated that an agreement would be concluded on Grade R but the Department has not moved an inch except for provinces to continue widening the wage gap amongst themselves. The NEC accused the DBE of undermining collective bargaining and failing to recognize it as a key instrument for addressing inequality in general and wage inequality in particular.
SADTU has since submitted demands to the CEM and HEDCOM and an item to the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) calling for prioritizing of Grade R working conditions which will regulate salaries, study funding, norms and standards in terms of practitioner-learner ratios that puts emphasis on preparation for learning through playing activities rather than writing and testing whilst, appropriate facilities and psychosocial services linked to district or circuit and availed to each school whilst developing a clear plan for the broader ECD.
TVET and CET sectors
The NEC is resolute that professionals in community Education and Training (CET) and Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) belong and will continue to belong to the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) in terms of Dispute Resolutions mechanisms and sectoral collective bargaining irrespective of how much propaganda is spread.
No amount of conniving by the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC), employer and those who wish to liquidate our Union will change the status quo. 84% of all Unions in the PSCBC understand and agree that it’s not the employment act that determines the scope for dispute resolutions and collective bargaining on sectoral matters but the content of the job that matters. The previous Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) Minister was misled by her negotiating team that is complicit to support a myth that the Employment Act determines sectoral scopes.
Early retirement without penalisation
The NEC took a decision not to advise members to take the early retirement without penalisation of pensions benefit as this had not been clearly explained to members.
This benefit first came to light during the Minister of Finance’s budget speech in February as a measure of reducing the public sector wage bill. The Minister announced that public servants aged 55 would be allowed to take early retirement without penalties.
The matter was introduced at PSCBC and labour probed it extensively and requested the employer to present a comprehensive Human Resource Plan, inclusive of all departments in order to determine the extent to which various department shall be affected by this policy change. However, the Employer failed to present the plan.
The NEC felt this retirement benefit was not done in good faith. It did not take the interests of workers at heart but was meant to appease the rating agencies.
On issues pertaining to remunerations
The NEC endorsed the decision to declare a dispute against the employer’s tabled proposal to amend the Department’s Incentive Policy Framework with a view of reducing the budget allocation for payment of performance bonuses to all categories of employees with effect from 1 April, 2019.
When the employer presented this proposal, labour rejected it and requested the employer to provide details on how the performance bonuses were paid in the previous financial year in order to determine which category of employees raked in the better part of the budget, starting from Directors General and senior managers. The employer failed to provide labour with a persuasive argument on the matter.
Government Employees Housing Scheme (GEHS)
The NEC raised concern that the process of developing a fully functional Government Employees Housing Scheme (GEHS) is moving at a snail’s pace. It then adopted a timeline that will ensure that the Scheme will be fully operational by September 2019.
The NEC was clear that the SA Home Loans project was about corruption and not the implementation of the collective agreement that would ensure that public servants use their own savings to change their socio-economic situation. The NEC was adamant that it will not allow any minister to take GEHS from being a benefit within DPSA to another Department.
The NEC called on members to vote for COSATU members as labour trustees in the board of Government Employee Pension Fund (GEPF).
Pensions Redress Programme
The NEC expressed concern that members are being robbed out of their hard-earned money by unscrupulous people who are going around, more especially in the Western Cape, asking members to fill in forms so that they can be paid as part of the Pensions Redress Programme.
The Pensions Redress Programme aims to compensate public service employees who were disadvantaged by past discriminatory practices and robbed of their pensionable services; for example; women whose services were terminated when they took leave to give birth and were re-employed as new employees upon their return. Their pensionable service was reduced as their service before they took maternity leave was not recognised.
The process towards ensuring pension redress began in 1998 when the Public Service Co-Ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) concluded a Resolution to recognise years of non-contributory service as unbroken years of pensionable service for employees who were discriminated against on the basis of race, gender or status.
The NEC resolved to call on the PSCBC to investigate these reports and release a communique stating that the application and verification processes have been finalised and closed.
On member benefits:
The Journal of SADTU
The NEC endorsed the launch the Union’s Journal and the first International Conference to take place on 3 to 5 July, 2019. The Journal is the realisation of the 2017 National General Council resolution that it should be established for the Union and teachers. The Journal has an editorial board made up of ten academics from South Africa’s higher education Institutions. The vision of the Journal is to establish an open space for teachers, interested parties and researches in education to reflect on their experience in the education environment and offer suggestions on how to transform and improve the education sector. It will enable teaches to document their educational stories or journeys while at the same time, influence educational policies from teachers’ perspective and share best educational practices.
The Short Term Insurance
The NEC in February resolved to create SADTU Financial Services. SADTU Financial Services will bring to members industry leading solutions at special rates. To this end, SADTU’s investment company SIHOLD has finalized an agreement on the launching of the short term insurance for members. This will cover household and vehicles.
Members can earn a cashback bonus of up to 30% a year, even if they claim, through our partner, Momentum Short Term Insurance. SADTU Financial Services will finalise many more special deals for members going forward.
ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat