Good news for Eastern Cape pupils

2012-02-08 13:52

Learners in the crisis-stricken Eastern Cape have been granted a temporary reprieve as the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) and the provincial government finally came to agreement on a number of issues.

This followed intervention from Cosatu general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, as well as a number of other national union leaders, after the two parties could not find each other since schooling started at the beginning of the year.

Sadtu, the province’s biggest teacher union with over 50 000 teachers on its books, had embarked on a three week-long go-slow, which saw members teach half days for three days of the school week.

It is not yet clear whether the go-slow would be called off as the union said it would take the decision to its structures first.

However, all parties signed copies of the agreement at the East London offices of the Eastern Cape Socio-Economic Consultative Council, where parties had met well into the night yesterday.

Issues discussed since Vavi’s intervention last week included fired temporary teachers, the removal of department head Modidima Mannya and the urgent review of the post establishment for 2012, which Sadtu has resisted.

It was agreed that the department would comply with a court order, handed down by Bhisho High Court Judge Belinda Hartle early in 2011, instructing the department to reinstate over 4 000 temporary teachers whose contracts had been terminated in December 2010.

The department had defied the order, and instead launched a number of unsuccessful appeals, the last being in November 2011, which were dismissed with costs.

Eastern Cape education MEC Mandla Makupula would release a circular by Friday that these teachers be reinstated within 48 hours.

Parties agreed that the department would go back to the bargaining chamber to relook the year’s post establishment, which Sadtu was challenging on the grounds that no consultation had taken place.

However, relations are still on a knife-edge as the parties failed to agree on a call made by unions: to remove head of department Mannya and health boss Siva Pillay.

Said Vavi: “The matter was engaged throughout all the discussions that were held. The unions insist that the dismissal of the two HODs will help smooth this process and help implement these decisions (agreements were made on issues of health in the province as well) much easier ... that’s the stance of the two unions until this day.

“Government has listened to our motivations in relation to that ... they felt that we must engage further on these and that’s why we decided not to include them on these decisions. It’s a matter we will continue to engage (on).”

Vavi jetted into East London yesterday afternoon and was locked in meetings with unions and provincial government until just before midnight.

This was after he spent last week in the province where he held a series of meetings with stakeholders.

He thanked everybody involved in the discussions, and urged workers to respect the efforts to find common ground by honouring agreements.

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