SADTU NEC Statement

3 June 2016

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of SADTU met from 01 to 02 June 2016 at Kopanong Hotel Benoni. The NEC dealt with issues ranging from education, political, socio-economic and labour and organizational.

The NEC recognised that it had convened at the beginning of the month of June which would mark the 40th anniversary of the "June 16 Uprising". In essence, the class of `76 was calling for equity and equality in education and their stand ushered in a new era in South Africa.

All South Africans have the responsibility to ask themselves if we have done enough collectively to ensure that the heroics of the class of `76 were not in vain. It was the NEC`s view that the African working class child in particular would remain compromised so long as we still had "mass meetings" perpetuated by the Peter Morkel post provisioning norms model instead of conducive class sizes.

The imbalances of the past which the class of `76 gallantly stood against would remain embedded in our society so long as African indigenous languages remained an afterthought in policy formulation, so long as we do not have sufficient planning and investment in continuos professional teacher development and so long as we still had an employer in the basic education sector that is captured by the neoliberal agenda represented by the DA as the shopstewards of white monopoly capital.

As long as we are still having an employer not too keen to sustain labour peace but interested in reintroducing apartheid rules when failing to review the post provision norms.

First and foremost, the NEC noted and condemned the burning of schools during community protests. "We may not have the full merits and demerits of the various cases that led to the burning of infrastructure, what we know is that the destruction cannot be a solution. We know that some of these actions are directly linked to those that want to profile our country as a failed state under the ANC government.

We urge the law enforcement agencies, particularly those within the intelligence space to get to the bottom of this trend to ensure that the guilty can be prosecuted and their handlers can be exposed, " the NEC resolved. It was the view of the NEC that our children`s future can not and should not be used as a bargaining tool to find immediate solutions.

The NEC further noted that the trend to destroy infrastructure was not only limited to basic education, it has touched institutions of higher learning where agents of a regressive agenda masquerading as dissatisfied students had taken to destroying university infrastructure in the name of protest.

This cannot just be captured in statements condemning these acts of barbarism but practical steps must be taken protect the teachers and learners in our schools. Those who are responsible for the violence must be apprehended. The NEC fully supports the SABC decision not not to broadcast this violence because we as teachers are responsible for building a violence-free society. We fully understand that the SABC will still provide the public with an impartial, accurate and balanced information about violent protest without having to celebrate violence by showing such shocking visuals.

The MTT report

The meeting was the first after the release of the final report of the Ministerial Task Team (MTT) on the selling of posts. It took a decision to approach the dispute resolution institutions as the only available recourse at the disposal of the Union. The NEC noted that although the MTT report did not find that SADTU was involved in the selling of posts, it was being used to demonise the union because of its links to the Tripartite Alliance.

The City Press newspaper and the DA were using the report to create an impression that SADTU has a stranglehold on education that needs to be defeated. The DA in particular has gone as far as arrogantly writing to the portfolio committee chair of the DBE to insist that SADTU "must" be compelled to appear before it and "account for its role in the selling of posts". This is despite the fact that the final report of the MTT did not find SADTU as an organisation guilty of selling posts.

The NEC viewed the stance by the DA as an apartheid era type scare tactic meant to profile largely black organisations as inherently corrupt and to subject us to a court of public opinion with the help of the City press.

The NEC expressed its dismay at some of the recommendations from the report which have not even been supported and linked to any substantive evidence whatsoever.

One of the recommendations is that effectively, parents through SGBs must no longer be involved in the appointment of education personnel in schools. This recommendation is in direct contradiction of the emphatic call by the Freedom Charter for "People`s Education for People`s Power". It is an insult to the poor and uneducated parents who are made to feel that they cannot partake in decision making processes that affect their children. How many leaders in our country come from parents who were not given the opportunity to have access to education but such are great leaders today? This views the minister of education as the agent of the DA to reverse what the Freedom Charter propagated by reintroducing the apartheid legislation that undermined parents because of their level of education.

Another recommendation is that school principals must be prohibited from occupying leadership positions in unions and political parties. This is in violation of the right to freedom of association and is nothing short of being unconstitutional. Has the South Africa of our ancestors who fought for human rights as provided for in international laws and the Constitution of the Republic become so intolerant with fundamental human rights?

The NEC took a decision to launch an offensive to clarify the Union`s position regarding the report and to explore all other possible avenues to ensure that on the basis of a fundamentally flawed methodology and the unwillingness by the MTT to provide any substantive evidence on issues raised other than opinions the recommendations be set aside.

Local Government Elections

The NEC reiterated the Union`s resolution to support the ANC in the up-coming local government elections. The NEC reiterated that it believed that there is still a strong case for workers to vote for the ANC. A vote for the ANC will continue to deliver among others; free basic education as seen in the actual implementation of the no-fee-school policy and school nutrition programme; development of the local economy which creates jobs and the building of integrated communities where all people have access to amenities and are placed within close distances to places of work.

Furthermore, it was noted that it is through the ANC government, major progress has been recorded in the country in more ways than one. For instance, the Land Expropriation Bill was recently passed in Parliament. The passing of this Bill marks the first steps towards reversing the distortions caused by the Land Act of 1913 and is championed by the ANC government. It is a significant achievement as many detractors, particularly the ultra left populists, have been at pains to create a narrative that seeks to suggest that the ANC has abandoned the land question.

The conduct of the Eastern Cape Treasury

The NEC noted the unfortunate conduct of the Eastern Cape Treasury. This Department has clearly taken a decision to play an active role in the space of organised labour and the dynamics attached to it. It has afforded organisational rights for member deductions to a pseudo-union in the public sector without following the legal steps governing this process as stipulated in the Labour Relations Act.

The NEC took a decision to open a case of fraud against the Eastern Cape Treasury. The Union will further demand that the Registrar of the Department of Labour, investigate possible collusion between the Provincial Treasury and the Eastern Cape Provincial Department of Education in violating the laws.

Organising in the Training Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and Community Education and Training (CET) sectors

The NEC raised strong concerns that the Department of Higher Education and Training was not giving priority to issues affecting TVET and CET lecturers.

A decision was taken to declare a dispute to compel the Minister of Higher Education to sign Collective Agreements that have been agreed upon in the TVET and CET sectors in the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC). The NEC resolved to declare a dispute over salary cuts of CET workers that were effected in Limpopo in September last year.

The Union is holding a two-day TVET Colloquium from today, 3 June under the them, "Restoring our professional Status within the TVET Sector.". Lecturers from 50 TVET colleges across the country, are attending the colloquium to look deeper into issues that affect lecturers in this sector.

Privatisation of and in Education

The NEC, once again, noted the increasing pace with which education is being privatized in low and middle income countries with the strong involvement of economic and political players. This is done to the detriment of quality public education.

One specific approach being used currently is the expansion of so-called "low fee" or low cost private schools. These mark a return to school fees and the ushering of global profit-driven education companies into the poorest countries, and a neo-liberal economic model based on faith, choice and competition.

The NEC resolved to take up the fight against the emergence of "edu-preneurs" in our sector. There must be increased investment in quality public education which should be universally accessible instead of seeking neo-liberal short cuts.

The NEC also committed to give support to teachers and the learners of Vuwani in ensuring that learners receive quality education in the protection of their future.

The NEC further resolved to exercise its certificate that was granted by the commissioner on 0,5% pay progression because the Union has concluded that the employer has no intention to respect the rules of engagement in the bargaining level.