We face the end of yet another dramatic and eventful year. 2012 has been marked by successes and challenges within the union and in the country as a whole. Some of the successes we experienced as a country included the ANC centenary, the celebrations, the elective congress and the election of the current ANC leadership led by President Jacob Zuma. We are confident the new leadership will ensure that stability continues within the ANC and the country.

We again commend the inclusion of worker representatives in the ANC’ s NEC – the highest decision-making body between national conferences.
COSATU President S’dumo Dlamini, NEHAWU General Secretary Fikile Majola, NUM President Senzeni Zokwana and COSATU Free State Provincial Secretary Sam Mashinini are part of the NEC. Their presence will serve to strengthen the voice of workers in the organization to ensure that policies adopted, address the needs of the working class and the poor.

We also celebrate the resolution of the ANC conference to have indigenous languages compulsory as from 2014.

The South African Communist Party and COSATU held highly successful congresses in 2012.
The year was also confronted with unpleasant experiences like the strikes in the mining sector - more particularly - the Marikana mine tragedy that led to the loss of lives of more than 34 miners.  These incidents shook the world of workers and made every union which claim to represent workers’ interests, to look critically within them.

SADTU also had to do some introspection and adopted a few resolutions at our National General Council held in November. These included:

  • That Bargaining and Negotiation for Salaries and other conditions of Service of workers be the responsibility of legitimate parties only as required by law and no other members of the Public.
  • That we reaffirm the universally accepted labour relations principles of majoritarianism in bargaining and the provisions that, only recognized unions can negotiate salaries and conditions of service for workers at bargaining councils.
  • That Collective Bargaining should remain central in resolving all the labour related issues with regard to salaries and other conditions of service and

The Central Executive Committee of Cosatu endorsed a programme of organizational renewal to combat the social distance between the leaders and members; by entrenching deeper forms of accountability and worker control; bureaucratization of structures and by ensuring the federation remains a campaigning mobilizing tool. The programme will culminate into a Collective Bargaining, Organizing and Campaign Conference to be held in March 2013. As an affiliate of Cosatu, were are going to hit 2013 running as we prepare take part in the Conference.

The non-delivery of textbooks in Limpopo marred the education scene in the country.   We saw several parties trying to take advantage of the situation by to making a mileage of an incident that had a potential to destroy the lives of thousands of learners.

SADTU was also put in the spotlight as those who wanted to create gains from the situation, began to question the Union’s action in the situation.

Just because we didn’t resort to striking but continued teaching, this does not mean we didn’t fight for the textbooks. We have many ways of engaging with government and we resorted to those.

We are aware of the graveness of the textbook situation in Limpopo but unfortunately; some groups took advantage of the situation and used it to discredit the Union and government. Again, we have at our NGC sent out a strong warning to these imperialists and neo-liberals masquerading as so-called NGO’s that we will not accept a situation in which they are used as proxies to pursue certain political agendas.

We welcomed the report of the Presidential Task Team established to investigate the non-delivery of learner and teacher support material in schools in Limpopo. We further welcomed the wide-ranging recommendations aimed at dealing with corruption by officials and service providers, negligence by the accounting officers entrusted with the responsibility of delivering quality education from DBE, Limpopo department of education and Limpopo Treasury, and lack of effective corporate governance at the strategic level of the department of education.

Based on the report, President Jacob Zuma asked Minister Motshekga to request the Public Service Commission to investigate the Director General (DG) Booby Soobrayan conduct with regard to the following:

  1. His alleged indecisive response to correspondence received from the publishers in December 2011 regarding the procurement of Learning and Teaching material for 2012;
  2. His alleged failure to provide the necessary support for the Section 100(1)(b) intervention, particularly his interaction with the Administrators appointed in terms of such intervention.

SADTU gave the minister seven days to operationalize the President’s instruction. We even wrote a letter to this effect but the Minister has not lifted a finger.

Further, we called for a forensic audit of Lebone Group Holdings, a company co-founded by Salama Hendricks, the DG’s former fiancé’s mother that was awarded a R243million tender to print, package and distribute workbooks to schools last year and the recent tender in Limpopo. The Director General was implicated in potential conflict of interest and allegations to corruption regarding the tender. We gave the minister seven days to institute such a forensic audit. The question we ask is, is the same company still contracted to deliver textbooks for Limpopo learners in 2013? If so what procedures were followed given the scandalous and embarrassing situation the country found itself? Where is the Competition Commission when procedures are flouted including the abuse of the deviation clauses on procurement?

SADTU is not prepared to allow corruption to ruin the future of the children of the working class. We are therefore going to use all our might to fight corruption and that people who are found guilty of putting their fingers in the till be brought to book irrespective of who they are.

As SADTU we found out that the textbook shortages was not only limited to Limpopo; all provinces were affected. The issue of temporary teachers, compliance to the norms and standards for funding schools, the destabilizing post provisioning model, infrastructure backlogs, the appointment of general assistance, the question of teacher development and the collapse of the education labour relations council also need to be attended to as well as they also plunge our education into a crisis.

The 2012-matric paper markers finished their work not knowing how much they were going to be paid due to the intransigence of Soobrayan.

On 7 April 2011, DG Soobrayan on behalf of the Department of Basic Education signed the Collective Agreement 1 of 2011 with the teacher unions which gave matric markers a 100% increase. Soobrayan disputed the figures and claimed they were incorrect.  On 18 December 2011 the parties to the ELRC concluded an addendum to the signed Collective Agreement in order to enable the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to effect payments to the markers. The addendum required the DBE to refer the dispute for the interpretation and application of the Collective Agreement to the ELRC. The parties agreed to the addendum in the interest of the learners and the nation as a whole but later realized that the DG`s intention was to withdraw from the binding agreement by misleading the Unions and the public.

On the 11th of May 2012, the DBE declared a dispute of the interpretation and enforcement of Collective Agreement 2011 at the ELRC.  The DBE alleged that DG Soobrayan mistakenly signed the Collective Agreement without having properly read its contents. The Department alleged that the DG did not receive the necessary mandate from the Minister of Basic Education and the Minister of Finance to bind the state into such an agreement with huge financial implications to the state. 

The ELRC dispute was set down for arbitration on 8 November 2012. However the arbitration hearing could not take place as the department requested the postponement of the case. The dispute was rescheduled for 29 November 2012. Again, the dispute could not be heard on the bases that the Department disputed the ELRC’s jurisdiction to arbitrate the matter and submitted that it be referred to the Labour Court. The Department’s submission came as a surprise to us; they could not challenge the ELRC jurisdiction, as they were applicants in the dispute. If they believed they had referred the matter to a wrong forum, they were supposed to have withdrawn the matter and taken it to a proper court.

We viewed the department’s conduct as a time consuming and resources depleting exercise that undermines collective bargaining in the education sector. The DG did not care about the consequences of such an action and damage it was causing on the integrity of the examination and education as a whole.

We served the Minister with a letter demanding to know if the department had taken any disciplinary action against the Director-General for signing the agreement without reading it and obtaining the necessary mandate from the Minister of Education and the Minister of Finance.

We also sought clarity on how 2012 markers were going to be paid for 2012 examinations and why it was difficult to increase the remuneration of markers by 100 %, whereas the department increased remuneration of examiners, moderators and translators by 100% in the past?

On 12 October 2012, we sent a letter the ELRC requesting them to investigate the alleged irregular spending of ELRC funds by Soobrayan on the Easter weekend. He allegedly spent R46 908 on accommodation, car hire and a business class flight. We are not convinced that this was a work-related expenditure as it took place over the Easter weekend. We then requested the ELRC to furnish us with details of the meeting Soobrayan allegedly attended. Up to date we have not received any response from the Minister and the ELRC. 

We concluded as SADTU that the DG was incompetent, dishonest and therefore not fit to hold such an astute office.

It cannot be accepted that the DG signed an agreement with financial implications without getting a mandate from the minister of education and the minister of finance and such an oversight is treated as a mere mistake with no consequence.

We cannot dismiss this as a mistake from the most senior person of the department.

We also cannot allow our members to suffer as a result of the Director General’s incompetency.

We therefore call for DG Soobrayan to be removed from his position with immediate effect. His continuous stay in the Department will only guarantee one thing – labour unrest as his actions undermine collective agreements to be paid due to non finalization of their salaries. The latest ruling on the delaying tactic applied by Soobrayan, is that the  Department’s Application is unsuccessful, and the matter should be set down for evidence and argument on the question of the validity of the agreement. This is a further embarrassment to the State President and Basic Education Minister for keeping an incompetent Director General who refers a dispute to the relevant council based on the signed Collective Agreement and in order for him to destroy the collective bargaining provisions that we fought for, decided to question the Council`s jurisdiction. Maybe he is going to claim that he didn`t read the same Collective Agreement 1 of 2011 which stated: " any dispute on the interpretation and application of the agreement shall be dealt with in terms of the dispute resolution mechanisms of the LRC. " Why is the minister allowing herself to be embarrassed by Soobrayan? We will all know the answer in 2013 when we shall be defending collective bargaining and cleansing the department of corruption. Soobrayan must go.

We have in 2012 also noted an increase in the exploitation of public platforms to attack SADTU with Dr Mamphela Ramphele’s derogatory remarks being uppermost in mind. To call SADTU members as drunkards, hooked on drugs and cannot take care of themselves is defamatory.

We don’t need people who sit in glass towers to tell us who we are. We know who we are, we know the conditions we work under and how hard we try for the sake of the children of the poor and the working class. 

We continue to reiterate the fact that pointing figures won’t solve the crisis in education. We need all the stakeholders to commit and to perfect their roles. We also need people to come up with solutions and not to chastise.  We commend the SACP’s resolve to play an active role with teacher unions and students formations to foster seriousness and professional commitment to resolving the crisis in education and called on all communists, whether as parents learners, teachers or community members to set an example of constructive activism in the education sector so crucial for the transformation of our country.

As SADTU, we continue to commit ourselves to Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC) and in particular to commit to non-negotiable that teachers must be on time, on task, thoroughly prepared and behave properly. This is part of a broad strategy to improve the quality of education and for learner’s attainment

We will be taking the campaign further by linking it with the Nedlac Accord, which encourages the adoption of schools by union leaders. We will in 2013, conduct door-to-door campaigns in branches and sites to promote quality public education in communities around the schools. This would be aimed at revitalizing and motivating the parents to start taking interest in public education on behalf of their children and to rekindle the confidence of our communities in Public Schooling.

This campaign will also serve to ensure a learmer’s right to access education. We strongly condemn the use of our children for personal and political reasons as was the case in the Northern Cape where learners did not attend school for six months.

The right and access to education for children should be defended at all times.

Through our Curtis Nkondo Professional Development Institute, we provided CAPS training to thousands of our members and an Assessment for Learning Programme in 2012.

We will continue in 2013 with these programmes and more. Other training programmes will include: School Management Training (SMT), English First Additional Language Training for the Foundation Phase and Intermediate Phase and Intense training for Foundation Phase teachers on in-depth content knowledge/use of textbooks/use of other resources and training in literacy and numeracy.

The challenge we will be facing as a union is to ensure that the more than 20254 schools in Quintile 1 to 3 receive these programmes targeting not less than 36084 Grade 1, 32091 Grade 2, 29488 Grade 3 and 29259 Grade 4 teachers. These schools need support from the DBE and all of us as they face multiple challenges including the infrastructure backlog.

Lastly, We wish the Matric Class of 2012 all the best as they anxiously await their results. We thank all our teachers who have done everything in their power to teach and support our learners. We are fully aware that they did this under very difficult conditions including violence in our schools.