Govt offer an insult - Sadtu
Petro-Anne Morkel and Lunga Biyela, News24
Cape Town – Members of the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) from a Western Cape branch said on Tuesday the new offer tabled by the state is an “insult”.
Government came to the table with a new offer of a 7.5% wage increase and a R800 housing allowance on Monday. Members of the union had to decide on whether they would accept the latest offer.
During a meeting of Sadtu’s Nyanga branch in Cape Town, members rejected the government’s new offer, with some saying that the 0.5% increase from government was an "insult".
"Nothing less than 8.6%," said a Sadtu member attending the meeting. "I say no to 7.5%."
"We should sustain the strike," said another. "If we don't, we (have) risked the education of our children and our salaries for only 0.5%."
Vusi Ntlantla, chairperson of Sadtu's Nyanga branch, explained to members that they must decide on a way forward now that they have decided to reject the government’s new offer.
Nyanga members were unimpressed when Ntlantla reminded them that even though they have rejected the new offer, other branches may not do the same, which means the national committee may still decide to accept the offer.
"We need to ask ourselves the question: Are we in the position to sustain the strike? We need you to give us an indication of a way forward," said Ntlantla.
Twenty one days to accept
Unions have been warned that they only have 21 days to accept government's new offer. Otherwise the state will revert to its initial offer of a 5.3% wage increase and a R620 monthly housing allowance.
Sadtu's deputy general secretary Nkosana Dolopi told News24 that meetings are taking place across the country to "check members attitude towards (government’s) offer and what they feel we should do moving forward".
Dolopi said that that the union should start to receive feedback from these meetings by late afternoon. "We hope that we have feedback (from everyone) by early tomorrow morning (Wednesday)."
Sadtu hopes that by Wednesday the union’s national executive committee will "put together" a proposal based on the feedback it received from their provincial branches, added Dolopi.
Meanwhile, matric pupils at Nhlanganiso Secondary School in Khayelitsha have been given past exam papers to complete, but no one is available to help them as teachers and other public servants are in a deadlock with the government over the pay increase.
Nosabatha Baliso told News24 that they were given the exam papers before the teachers embarked on the strike.
"They (exam papers) have been helping, but when we don't understand something, we have to skip it as we don't have someone to explain it to us," she said. "I don't think I'm ready for exams. If someone were there to help me, I'd be ready."
Nosabatha's father, Mziwoxolo Baliso said that although he believed the teachers had a right to strike, the pupils were, in the end, the ones that were suffering.
"We send the children to school, and we expect them (teachers) to take over the role of the parent," he said. "But, now they've put us in this unfortunate situation.
"The teachers are parents too themselves. It would have been better had they sat down with us as parents and consulted us on this decision to strike."
He added that should a child fail a grade and repeat a year, it would be the parents that would be stuck with the financial burden.
On Monday, the strike effect in the Western Cape had been described as "minor".
Eighty two schools, 5.2% of the total, were closed on Tuesday because of strike action, and 13% of educators were absent from work.
Western Cape Education MEC Donald Grant said on Friday that preliminary exams would go ahead as scheduled.
"This decision has been taken in the best interests of learners," Grant said, according to Sapa.
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