Lindiwe Sisulu hits snag with Sadtu

2013-06-19 15:23

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Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu will meet teachers’ union Sadtu this week regarding teachers’ pay, MPs have heard.

The Presidential Remuneration Commission – announced by President Jacob Zuma in his state-of-the-nation address – was meant to review the pay and working conditions of public servants, starting with teachers.

But the commission could not start its work until the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) had dropped certain demands it was making.

“We are meeting Sadtu tomorrow and hoping we can strike an agreement, because this is an essential part of the work that we do,” Sisulu told Parliament’s portfolio committee on public service and administration today.

She said that during the last public-service wage agreement reached with unions, several concerns were raised.

These included teachers who had been teaching for two decades earning less than receptionists.

“We have never used an instrument that is scientific for all to understand on how we grade jobs and what the value for money is for those jobs ... what is this value for money?

“We talked about it, but we never tested it,” she said.

The commission, chaired by former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo, would invite input from unions and various other interested parties.

Regarding the commission’s terms of reference, Sisulu said it would make recommendations to government on, among others:

» A fair and efficient remuneration system;

» Benchmarking public-service remuneration and conditions of service relative to market remuneration;

» Inefficiencies in the remuneration structure as a result of excessive pay or inappropriate organisational design;

» General trends in salary level, structures, and wages;

» A uniform job-grading system to improve job equity throughout the public service; and

» Measurable performance indicators for the public service, which might be used to evaluate individual and departmental performance against salary levels.

“We talked about productivity, but we’ve never tested it with our people ... we never checked with our people whether teachers are paid sufficiently, or maybe overpaid, or whatever the case may be,” Sisulu said.

Government wanted an internationally recognised grading system.

“The teaching profession would be used as a benchmark against what we would say this is the salary we have worked out. This is what the state will get out of this particular person.”

If Sadtu did not drop some of its demands, the commission could prioritise another sector.

“We are now running out of time. At my last interaction with the president he said if we are not able to have an early settlement with Sadtu, rather start prioritising the nursing sector so we are able to make progress on this matter,” she told MPs.

The commission would be given eight months to complete its work, with a R25 million budget.

“The proclamation has been prepared and we hope it will be gazetted as soon as the president has satisfied himself that the labour problems around Sadtu have been done.”

On May 6, Sadtu suspended all protests after Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga agreed to meet a host of its demands.

In a joint announcement, the minister undertook to support, among others, an urgent initiative to achieve parity in the public service, and to appoint a task team to deal with the union’s complaint about a failure to increase the salaries of matric exam markers.

Motshekga also bowed to the union’s demands for an investigation into allegations against her director-general Bobby Soobrayan.

It has accused him of violating the Public Finance Management Act. She said the matter would be referred to the Public Service Commission and dealt with as a matter of urgency.

At the same time, Sadtu dropped its call for Motshekga’s resignation.

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