Maverick Citizen

DISUNITY CLAIM

Sadtu accuses higher education department of dividing unions

Sadtu accuses higher education department of dividing unions
South African Democratic Teachers’ Union general secretary Mugwena Maluleke. (Photo: Gallo Images / Antonio Muchave)

Sadtu expressed ‘displeasure and disgust’ at not being invited to last month’s roundtable on TVETs, which was attended by Nehawu and the Public Servants Association of South Africa.

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) has accused the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation of dividing unions by excluding it from a meeting while working with its alliance partner, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu).

In addition to representing teachers in schools, the unions also represent lecturers at technical vocational education and training colleges (TVETs) and universities, which fall under the department.

In a statement on Monday, Sadtu’s NEC expressed “displeasure and disgust” at not being invited to last month’s roundtable on TVETs, which was attended by Nehawu and the Public Servants Association of South Africa.

The roundtable was held at Protea Hotel Fire & Ice Menlyn in Pretoria on 22 September.

Read more in Daily Maverick: TVET colleges need a radical overhaul to become centres of excellence 

Sadtu said the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation “has been dividing unions in education in cahoots with one union”.

Sadtu spokesperson Nomusa Cembi said the union in question was Nehawu. Both unions are affiliates of the ANC’s alliance partner Cosatu.

Despite not being invited, Cembi said Sadtu representatives forced their way into the roundtable, but were not allowed to present.

Nehawu hits back

Spokesperson for Nehawu Lwazi Nkolonzi said they had been invited to the roundtable because they were a stakeholder in TVETs.

“We attended. We’re not going to be entertaining those allegations,” Nkolonzi said. 

He said the union would picket on Tuesday, 3 October at the department’s headquarters in Pretoria to highlight their grievances and the challenges confronting them.

“We are going to take the fight head-on to the minister of higher education [Blade Nzimande]. We’re not in cahoots with any department. We’ve proven that we are fighting for our members.”

Nkolonzi said among issues that would be raised were that “the state of higher education is in tatters” and the challenges at the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

Read more in Daily Maverick: Nzimande lashes out at detractors amid NSFAS funding uproar 

Nzimande’s spokesperson, Ishmael Mnisi, said the department denied any insinuation that it divides unions. He said the department recognises and respects all unions admitted in bargaining councils as important and equal stakeholders.

He said the roundtable was organised by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and not the Department of Higher Education and Training. “According to the DST, the initial plan was to have about 100 stakeholders, which includes all the stakeholders, and there is proof that Sadtu was invited like all other unions.”

Budget cut concerns

Meanwhile, Sadtu recently took part in a workshop convened by the Education Labour Relations Council to deliberate on cost containment measures following a directive from the National Treasury.

“The impact of austerity measures on our country would mean worsening economic and financial crisis, increased joblessness and poverty, deepening inequality and deterioration of quality of education,” Sadtu said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: SA’s delivery of crucial services under threat after Treasury desperately calls for public ‘fiscal consolidation’ 

The Sadtu NEC resolved to hold a special meeting, to which the leaders of the tripartite alliance and Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago would be invited, to provide it with an analysis of the country’s economic situation to enable the union to strategise.

Bela Bill

Sadtu said the adoption of the Basic Education Laws Amendment (Bela) Bill by the portfolio committee on basic education last week was welcomed.

However, Sadtu lambasted the DA’s “ridiculous” position on the bill.

This was after DA MP Baxolile Nodada issued a statement on 26 September saying that the ANC majority on the portfolio committee had pushed the bill through without considering all the submissions made during the public participation process.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Drama in Parliament as DA and ACDP MPs walk out of Bela Act draft report deliberations

Nodada said the Bill disempowered school governing bodies from determining their admission and language policies and placed the final authority with the heads of provincial education departments (HoDs).

This, he said, made HoDs players and referees, who could abuse this power to further destroy quality education.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Parliamentary report mostly gives thumbs-up to Bela Bill, with a few amendments

Sadtu said discrimination on the basis of race and language should not be tolerated by anyone.

“Sadtu supported the powers provided to HoDs to be the person with final authority to admit the child because school governing bodies refuse to deracialise and integrate our children.” DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Ben Harper says:

    SADTU should be banished and banned, they have done more damage to the education system in this country than any one or anything else

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