29 November 2021
The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union in the Free State province held its last Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) meeting for the year on the 26th to 27th November 2021 in Parys, at Woodlands Lodge. The PEC deliberated on issues of organisational, education and political since the last meeting. The meeting further delivered on its mandate of adopting programmes and budget for 2022.
The PEC noted with concern the consistent allegations levelled against the Free State Department of Education as reported by the Media House, Step Up SA News, with the recent release on 22 November 2021 about the appointment of a “convicted criminal running legal affairs at Free State Education”. The Step Up SA News has in the past reported on a number of irregular appointments in the Department of Education in the province. What is worrisome to the PEC is the fact that the Department of Education has never commented on this litany of allegations that are putting the DoE into disrepute. It is on this silence from the DoE that the PEC resolved to demand clarity from both the MEC for Education and HOD and their response should reach the union within seven (7) days.
The PEC took place during the 16 Days of Activism against Abuse of Women and Children. We noted with concern the allegations of human trafficking of school girls between Ficksburg and Lesotho and the high rate of cases of drug abuse in the same area and elsewhere in the province. We resolved to engage the Department of Education for speedy attention to the matter.
The PEC deliberated further on other issues as follows:
The PEC noted the reports on the new Covid-19 variant and called upon her members and the citizens not to drop the ball in believing that Covid-19 has disappeared. To that effect the PEC reiterated the position of the union against End Year functions that are regarded as Covid-19 super-spreaders considering that in such events safety protocols are not observed. We further call upon teachers, support staff and the entire citizenry of the province and the country to vaccinate as taking a jab has played significant role in reducing the serious illnesses related to covid-19. We commit to educate members about the importance of vaccination in order to demystify false information about vaccine.
On violence in schools
The PEC has learnt of recent incidents of violence in schools in the province that seek to reverse the strides made in the past to bring acts of violence to nil. We noted that some acts of violence happened during the matric camps where the union has always cautioned the DoE about lack of security for learners and teachers. The meeting viewed the increasing cases of violence in a serious light and resolved amongst others to move with speed in cascading the launching of the Union’s campaign “I am a school fan” to all its 52 branches in the province during the period of January to March 2022. Through this campaign, SADTU is raising awareness and calling on different stakeholders; teachers, learners, parents, department of education, SAPS and different community organisations/individuals to join hands in rooting out the scourge of violence in schools. The campaign further focuses on bettering the behaviours and attitudes in learners and teachers in the environment where violence exists on multiple levels. We commit to conduct workshops for our members against administering corporal punishment and to refrain from improper relationships with learners amongst other issues that contribute to violence.
On Collective Agreement 1 of 2018
The PEC noted that the matter has been heard by the Constitutional Court in August 2021 and find it strange that the ruling was still pending. This despite members eagerly awaiting the outcome with understanding that it might go either way, but at least the matter would have finally laid to rest.
The PEC was further concerned by the delay in effecting the payment of 1, 5% in November 2021 as promised. These are some of the measures that undermine collecting bargaining and should not be tolerated.
The PEC noted with disappointed the snail pace of processes to implement CA 1 of 2015 in particular on Government Employee Housing Scheme (GEHS). It is the view of the PEC that the intention to sign the collective agreement was to guarantee shelter for all public servants informed by the sorry state of some workers’ living conditions, including teachers, who do not qualify for RDP houses because it is claimed that their salaries are too high whilst they are too risky to be loaned money by the banks to buy houses of their choices. As the matter will be elevated to the NEC, the meeting noted that there are members who need sites to build their houses and to that effect the PEC resolved to engage the provincial government, working with COSATU and SACP to provide sites at no cost to teachers who need them.
On Equity Targets
The PEC noted with concern the slow pace at which the process of equity is moving in the Department of Education in the province. This is demonstrated by the dominance of males in senior management positions in districts, head office and as school principals. The PEC resolved to strengthen the implementation of the recruitment policy in the education sector to speed up this fundamental transformation process.
On ECD and Grade R
The PEC noted with appreciation, the progress made on the migration of Early Childhood Development (ECD) from the Department of Social Development to the Department of Education. The meeting welcomed progress registered on funding for Grade R practitioners to upgrade their qualifications towards Diploma and B.Ed. for 2022, which will include those already registered.
The PEC resolved to put pressure on the Department of Education to ensure that the 450 Grade R posts created through PPN are filled as a matter of urgency. We will convene an urgent meeting of Grade R representatives to update them on new developments pertaining to their issues.
On Local Government Elections
The PEC noted the poor performance of the ANC in the 2021 local government elections, a critical caution to the alliance on the course of the National Democratic Revolution. The PEC acknowledged that should the ANC not do things differently, the situation might be worse in the 2024 general elections. To that effect, the PEC congratulated all the Councillors on their appointments and called on the ANC to speedily attend to grievances raised by the communities against flawed nomination processes leading towards the elections and we make a plea to Councillors to make service delivery their priority. The PEC further called on the ANC to redouble its efforts in fighting corruption at all levels and develop a clear programme of action to bring to an end factions that are destroying itself.
On SACCAWU strike
The PEC noted the current SACCAWU strike action against unilateral changes to terms and conditions of employment which will result in retrenchment of workers by Massmart/Walmart Stores. We pledge our solidarity with SACCAWU and will continue to mobilise members on a consumer boycott of all Massmart Stores in the province.
ISSUED BY PROVINCIAL SECRETARIAT:
Mokholoane Moloi : Provincial Secretary : 076 811 2777
Kedibone Frank: Deputy Secretary: 079 886 3317