Sadtu lawyers to probe ‘proxy wars’

2013-10-06 14:00

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Union allegedly fighting for EduSolutions against education department.

The SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) has appointed a law firm to probe allegations that it is being used by EduSolutions and book publishers to fight proxy wars on their behalf against the department of basic education.

While Sadtu has vehemently denied the allegations, four sources with close knowledge of the matter have told City Press they believe the teachers’ union has allowed itself to be used in the textbook supply firm’s battles with the department.

Sadtu’s own internal documents reveal that in May the union’s national executive committee (NEC) raised concerns about “allegations” that it was being used in “publishers’ battles”.

Although EduSolutions doesn’t publish books, Sadtu’s secretary Mugwena Maluleke told City Press “publishers” included EduSolutions.

Minutes of a May meeting, which City Press has seen, read: “(T)he NEC deliberated at length (over) the allegations that our campaign in the defence of collective bargaining was funded by the publishing houses, the (department) and, to a larger extent, the Congress of SA Students, through a statement they released jointly with the ANC Youth League in Gauteng. (They) have been at pains to allege that ours is a proxy battle between publishers, using the national office bearers.”

The union spent the whole of last year calling for Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and her suspended director-general Bobby Soobrayan to be axed.

The union accused Soobrayan of failing to implement collective bargaining agreements that had been agreed upon.

It also claimed that Motshekga failed to discipline Soobrayan.

But sources City Press spoke to – who all have close knowledge of the situation but asked not to be named – say collective bargaining is a side issue.

“There is no other way to look at it – Sadtu is fighting EduSolutions’ battles,” said one impeccable source.

He pointed out that the union’s initial call for Soobrayan to be axed last February coincided with the explosion of the Limpopo textbook scandal.

Sadtu in KwaZulu-Natal has now risen up against the provincial head of department, Nkosinathi Sishi, calling for his performance to be evaluated – and for his suspension.

The union is accusing him of failing to implement collective bargaining agreements.

But one of City Press’ sources pointed out that EduSolutions’ contract in KwaZulu-Natal is up for renewal but Sishi is refusing to sign it because he has questions about the deal.

Repeated attempts to speak to Sishi over several weeks were unsuccessful.?Last month City Press reported that in 2010 African Access, EduSolutions’ holding company, donated R250?000 to Sadtu in KwaZulu-Natal for “matric enrichment programmes”.

The two parties also signed a memorandum of understanding in which they agreed to cooperate on a number of issues.

But Maluleke denied that the union was used by either EduSolutions or publishers.

“It is not true. It will never be true. We don’t fight anyone’s battle.”

He said the union’s issue with Soobrayan and Sishi was their refusal to implement collective bargaining agreements.

“We will call everybody who says we are funded by EduSolutions or publishers to submit evidence (to the lawyers appointed to probe the allegations).”

He said he was not sure when the internal probe would be completed.

Motshekga and Soobrayan declined to comment, saying the matter was sub judice.

EduSolutions: What could have been

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