Department, Sadtu reach agreement

Cape Town – The Department of Basic Education has agreed to attend to some of the demands made by the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), with the union in return agreeing to suspend all work-to-rule and other actions which may hamper teaching.

Sadtu began its work-to-rule action earlier this year, in which it called on teachers to limit their involvement in schools to simply classroom teaching and to stay away from after-hours meetings, workshops and activities arranged by the department.

The agreement today will see teachers return to all activities.

The department has agreed to refer the union’s allegations of corruption against the Director General Bobby Soobrayan and other officials at the department to the Public Service Commission to investigate as a matter of urgency.

The department has also agreed to refer for investigation, the union’s concern over Minister Angie Motshekga’s withdrawal from a signed collective agreement to increase pay for exam markers to a task team made up of representatives of the unions and the department.

Briefing the media in Parliament on Monday, the minister said she was confident that Sadtu had distanced itself from the incident which took place last month when union members had displayed underwear they listed as Motshekga’s during a march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

The minister, who has since referred the incident to the Equality Court, said the incident had highlighted the need to educate men and women about the sensitivities of gender issues.

Turning to the agreement, she said the department would withdraw Circular 117, which Limpopo teachers were up in arms over and which relates to a rural allowance given to teachers. Motshekga said the dispute emanated from budget shortages in the province which resulted in some teachers receiving the subsidy and others not.

The department would investigate and attend to norms that may not have been paid to schools in Limpopo.

The department, with the support of the provinces, would provide unions with the infrastructure plans and projected timeframes for the completion of new school buildings, as well as water, sanitation and electricity links across the country. 

Further, the department agreed to provide a management plan for the delivery of all Learner Teacher Support Material to schools.

The Deputy Minister of Basic Education Enver Surty said the department would also support the initiative by the Department of Public Service and Administration of achieving parity in wages.

He pointed out that the wages of teachers and educators fell 0.5% below those of other public servants.

Sadtu’s Deputy General Secretary Nkosana Dolopi said the union would be waiting for the outcome from the Public Service Commission’s investigation into Soobrayan and other officials, before deciding on whether to take any further action.

“Now that we have a better space for engagement, we feel like we must allow this space that has been created by engaging the ministry to try to respond to the real issues here,” Dolopi said. –