SADTU turns sod for its headquarters

South Africa’s biggest teacher and education workers’ union SADTU, boasting of a 260 000 membership, has reached another milestone. Yesterday (12 September 2014) SADTU officially turned the sod at the site of its new headquarters in Glen Marais, Kempton Park in Gauteng.

Public Works Minister and former SADTU General Secretary Thulas Nxesi said the ceremony was a milestone. Two decades ago when SADTU was launched it had 30 000 members; it now has over a quarter of a million members and was planning to construct a multi-million rand complex to better serve the membership.

SADTU’s investment company SIHOLD is overseeing the project.

Called SADTU Village, the headquarters will accommodate a purpose-built national office, training institute, conference centre and 250-bed residential complex.

“I can see the SADTU Village as a national hub of organizational activity – training organizers, shop stewards, leadership on a continuous basis – so that the national office becomes much more than an administrative centre, but also is massively enhanced as the organizing centre of the Union,” he said.

Nxesi commended the Union for its 2030 Vision adopted during the  National General Council in 2011 and the building  of SADTU Village would play an important role in the realization 2030 Vision. The Vision is based on 5 Pillars: Serving Union members, Creating a learning nation, Promoting a developmental oriented nation state, Creating international partnerships and Building a delivery-based organizational capacity  

“The establishment of a training institute and a conference centre will help drive capacity building programmes in relation to professional development; collective bargaining, and political education,” he said.
Nxesi emphasized the need for political education in the changing face of membership.

“We are moving into an era where increasingly young teachers will be coming through who do not share the same experiences of past struggles. SADTU has to engage with them – to take up their issues; to facilitate their participation; as well as to share with them the historical experience of the Union so that they know where we come from.

We have to take seriously the task of cadre development and membership education, if we are to combat the new tendency where individuals join organizations – not to fight for a common good – butfor personal benefit and enrichment. Again, I see the SADTU Village raising the bar in this respect,” Nxesi said.
He warned the leadership that the strength and power of the union could never be measured by its wealth, its investments or the scale of its property holdings. “We must never forget, that a Union is only as strong as its members,’’ Nxesi said

COSATU President S’dumo Dlamini congratulated SADTU. “The headquarters is the prestige of the organization. You have now built a powerhouse,’’ he said. He was happy SADTU was going ahead with the project at the most critical time when it was receiving accusations from all sides. “  There would have been no better time to build the structure than this time. This is for your members. Work close on this project. It cannot be turned into curse tomorrow because it is a right decision. They cannot attempts to derail you at this point,” Dlamini said..

He urged SADTU to continue to unite COSATU. “Your work will pay good dividends,” Dlamini said.