The National Executive Committee of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) held its last meeting for the year on Friday, 7 December 2012 in Kempton Park Johannesburg and outlined its 2013 programmes. 2013 will be marked by the election of sites, branch and regional representatives.

However, before the year ends, the NEC has called for the implementation of Collective Agreement No 1 of 2011 which increases the remuneration for Grade 12 markers by 100% as signed by all parties at the ELRC in 2011. The decision of the NEC is taking forward the 2012 National General Council decision to pursue the full implementation of this binding collective agreement.

On the 7th of March 2011, a gazette stipulating a 6,8% tariff increase for examination related work for 2011, was published. A month later, on 7 April 2011, the Department of Basic Education and teacher unions signed the Collective Agreement 1 of 2011.  The Director General disputed the figures and claimed that 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 the Director General, Booby Soobrayan mistakenly signed the Collective Agreement without having properly read its contents. He allegedly signed the Collective Agreement without following proper internal processes. 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

With only a few of days left before the matric markers finish their work, it appears as if the Department does not see the urgency of the matter.

We are in the dark as to how 2012 markers are going to be paid as the matter is still under dispute.

On 11 October 2012, we served the Minister with two letters. The first was demanding the minister to institute the recommendation of the Presidential Task Team on the non-delivery of textbooks in the Limpopo province which also called for the minister to investigate how a company that failed to deliver, was appointed.

In the second letter, we demanded 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. 

The NEC concluded that the DG is incompetent, dishonest and is 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 the Director General Bobby 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.

On the temporary teachers:

The NEC resolved that all temporary teachers in funded posts be appointed permanently before the end of the year. There must be no learner without a teacher at the beginning of the year, so said the NEC.


ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat