The National Working Committee of the South African Democratic Teachers Union having met in preparation of the upcoming National Executive Committee reflected on a number of issues that required its urgent attention. After extensive deliberation, the collective resolved as follows:

0.5% disparity on pay progression in the public service for teachers

We are appalled with the manner in which the Department of Basic Education has been handling the matter of the 0,5% parity for the teachers.  The matter has been dragging unduly for almost 5 years with the Department applying all sorts of delaying tactics to the utter dismay of the teachers. The Department has not shown any sense of urgency in resolving the matter and we see this as a deliberate attempt to undermine collective bargaining and reverse our gains as the teachers.

This regressive behaviour by the employer spells disaster for labour peace in a sector that has been declared a priority area by the government of the day. All South Africans must be heavily concerned when teachers are not given what is rightfully due to them yet are expected to produce the desired educational outcomes. We must state that we are not being unreasonable with our demand as far as the disparity on pay progression is concerned, our sad reality is that teachers are the only public servants that receive a 1 % pay progression when all other public servants receive 1,5%.  

We have stated on numerous occasions publicly and in the relevant collective bargaining structure that this is not sustainable and can only serve as a demoralising factor for the country’s teachers who are already facing extremely unfavourable work conditions in most schools. There is clearly no logic behind this disparity and we have now reached a stage where by after exhausting all the stages in labour dispute resolving are prepared to take up arms and go to the battle field on behalf of our members and teachers in general.

The Department of Basic Education under the current leadership has once again proven beyond reasonable doubt that it treats the sector as a priority area only when it comes to policing teachers.
The excitement and urgency with which the Department treats policy matters like biometric systems and competency tests for teachers yet fail to bring the issue of the pay progression disparity to conclusion must be a serious cause for concern for all South Africans who believe in quality public education.

We must categorically state however that we link the Department’s failure to finalise this matter with the leadership style of its Chief Accounting Officer Bobby Soobrayan. This Director General has shown throughout his term of office that collective bargaining is nothing but an inconvenience to him. This is the very DG under whose leadership only 1 collective agreement has been signed which he reneged on, an unheard of in the public service.

Let us remind the public that the Public Protector’s report on what was then called the “textbook saga” in Limpopo placed the blame squarely at the DG’s feet. The Public Protector found that at the centre of the crisis was Bobby Soobrayan’s improper conduct and maladministration in the acquisition of Teaching & Learning material, she further found that he dismally failed to exercise the required diligence and leadership, the Public Protector went as far as calling on the Minister to take stern action against him.

The Director General contravened basic principles of the Public Finance Management Act by signing without any mandate a major collective agreement and as far as we are concerned he has lost credibility and cannot be taken seriously. We are thus utterly dismayed by his return to the helm of the Department after what was clearly a sham of a disciplinary process tailor made to exonerate him.

We regret the fact that in his firm defence were his lieutenants who are senior bureaucrats in the Department and happened to be our own members. As a matter of principle, we refuse to keep people in our fold who go as low as protecting their masters at the expense of collective bargaining and quality public education, we have thus resolved to summarily terminate their memberships.

The return of Bobby to the helm of the Department is nothing short of a declaration of war and we will not lie down and play dead under these circumstances. Our members and teachers in general must know that their conditions of service will never improve whilst Bobby Soobrayan is the DG and that has been demonstrated throughout his term.

In terms of the 0,5% pay progress we are now serving a notice to strike and will then conduct a ballot with our members in terms of our constitution. The National General Council of 2013 made it clear that this is a fight that we must engage in until our members and teachers in general get what is rightfully due to them.

As a way forward, the National Working Committee will host a meeting with the Sol Plaatjie site of the Union and engage the members on how we must react to this blatant act of provocation by the Department. The National Executive Committee of the Union in its upcoming meeting of the 21st to the 22nd will then outline a programme action which will then be communicated to the membership.

We must also register the fact that we are still open and more than willing to meet with the minister and resolve this matter.

Internal dynamics within the Union

The union regrets the behaviour by some of its structures in the Eastern Cape which are hell bent on defining themselves outside the collective. The call by some from that province for the lifting of the suspension of the General Secretary of the federation and the President of the Union are contaminated with traces of gross ill-discipline and cannot be acceptable. We want to remind all our members that the National General Council of 2013 deliberated on the matter and resolved that we will allow the internal processes that both the federation and the Union have embarked on to continue without any prejudice.

The view of the NGC was clear that no single individual irrespective of the position they occupy is above the constitution of the federation and Union. We thus want to inform those that call for the lifting of the suspensions of the General Secretary of COSATU and the President of SADTU that our patience is not unlimited and at the appropriate time we will act decisively against these divisive elements. We will not shy away from taking decisive action against those who undermine our unity and constitution as a Union and as a federation.

Our members must note as well that no amount of intimidation will deter us from implementing what is dictated by the constitution of the Union. It must be understood that no decision of the federation or union will be overturned through mass meetings by those that have a penchant for hogging the media headlines.

Let us equally inform our members that we will use appropriate channels to communicate with them and that they can access accurate information through our website as well.