SADTU's call for minister’s resignation "regrettable"

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Pretoria – Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga is disappointed at the utterances made by the leadership of the South Africa Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) that she must resign, the department said on Wednesday.

Department spokesperson, Panyaza Lesufi, said that Motshekga found the stance taken by SADTU unfortunate and the posture and tone regrettable.

On Tuesday, a special National Executive Committee of SADTU expressed its “loss of confidence in the Minister of Basic Education in leading the department and ensuring the protection of  collective bargaining – a critical right we have as workers which should be protected at all times”.

Setting the record straight on the key allegations that SADTU made, the department highlighted that on 7 April 2011 a Collective Agreement No. 1 of 2011 was entered into under the auspices of the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC).

Lesufi explained that the purpose of the agreement was recorded as being to “improve the remuneration of those who are appointed as markers in the National Examinations”.

“The agreement was introduced to align the collective bargaining processes with the published gazette (Government Notice 187; Gazette 34079) of 2011. However, the tariffs inserted on page 3 of the Collective Agreement were in conflict with the above-mentioned gazette published in February 2011. 

“The error was picked up and communicated to the unions. The financial implication of the error was that the provinces would have had to pay an additional R700 million which was not in their budgets,” Lesufi explained.

He said the senior manager and middle manager responsible for the error were disciplined and given final written warnings for their negligence in this matter and as a result the department did not proceed with the implementation of the erroneous agreement.

“The unions accepted in principle that a bona fide error had occurred and this led to the addendum to Collective Agreement 1 of 2011, which was signed on 18 December 2011.”

According to Lesufi, in various meetings with unions held to discuss this matter, the Director General, Bobby Soobrayan, was assured of the support of the unions including SADTU in his attempts to find a solution.

However, SADTU’s attitude began to change as the union failed to attend meetings arranged to discuss this matter and rejected various offers made by the department to find a resolution to this matter.

“The union’s position on this matter has left the department with no option but to withdraw from the dispute it had lodged with the ELRC to clarify the validity of the agreement. This means in effect that the members of SADTU have gained nothing from the union’s intransigent position on this matter.

“It is, therefore, unfortunate for the unions to continue to make demands that we pay based on the figures that they have agreed with us that were incorrect,” Lesufi said.

On SADTU’s call for Soobrayan’s dismissal, Lesufi said the minister, in keeping with the directive of the President, is awaiting a report from the Public Service Commission on the investigation into the procurement of textbooks before she can consider the matter.

“When the minister receives a report from the commission, only then will the matter be considered. The minister is committed and available to meet and discuss the issues raised by the union,” Lesufi said. –