Union, department tensions escalate

2011-11-08 14:52

The Eastern Cape department of education’s impasse with majority teacher union, the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu), is set to widen after the department signalled it will not buckle under the union’s threats of embarking on strike this Friday.

Sadtu made the announcement that its 53 000 members would strike last week. It accuses the department of not acting in education’s interest by challenging a court order to reinstate over 4 000 temporary teachers whose contracts were terminated last year.

It was also disgruntled over the department allegedly not consulting them on the process of post establishment for the next academic year as required by law.

Earlier today, department head Modidima Mannya, addressing the provincial legislature’s portfolio committee on education, said the department would not back down.

He instead announced the department was declaring 64 752 teaching posts for next year and it would not change.

He said the number was reached through a credible consultation process and agreed upon by the 95% of the province’s schools.

“The executive council had to allocate an extra R3.5 billion to ensure that post provisioning for 2012 is fully funded. And the MEC has consequently declared the only posts that I’m authorised to fill. And I intend to do that without fail ... in my view this is very favourable.”

Mannya added the establishment went a long way to beef up teachers in farm schools, and those with 200 and less learners, who are normally adversely affected by post establishments.

He said teachers in excess, including temporary teachers, were a major contributor in the department’s over expenditure in the past financial year.

“This, therefore, indicates it is critical, not only for the department, but for the provincial revenue fund, that the issue of post establishment be resolved once and for all. The more we continue in negotiations, the more the provincial revenue fund will go into the red,” he said.

Education MEC Mandla Makupula said he, along with Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet, met with the disgruntled teacher representatives yesterday in a bid to find common ground.

However he did not reveal what the outcomes were, saying it was the Premier’s meeting, and she would reveal these to the media this week.

The union is also scheduled to meet with Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga tomorrow (Wed) in Pretoria.

Both Sadtu and the Premier were not immediately available for comment today, as messages went unreturned.

Committee chairperson Mzolelei Mrara had earlier said the impending strike was worrying and would sully the province’s good reputation of managing examinations properly.

The department met with the committee this morning in a meeting that dragged on into the early afternoon without Mpls questioning the department on the impasse.

Both Makupula and Mannya touched on the issue of the strike while giving overviews on the department’s annual report for the year ending this year.

The department, which received a disclaimer finding from the auditor-general, the worst possible finding, spent R18 billion of its R23-billion budget for 2010/11 on compensation of employees.

The auditor-general found if failed to provide documentation for R 2.62 billion of these payments in salaries, allowances, and employer contributions.

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