South African Democratic Teachers Union members come up against a police cordon at the Union Buildings in Pretoria in this file picture. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO
South African Democratic Teachers Union members come up against a police cordon at the Union Buildings in Pretoria in this file picture. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO

The South African Democratic Teachers Union has given the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Higher Education and Training seven days to respond to its demands or face a full national strike.

The union’s 260,000 members make up about two-thirds of SA’s public education teaching workforce. The union’s demands range from pay disparity issues to issues of working conditions.

On Tuesday, about 10,000 union members marched to the departments’ offices in Pretoria, demanding a pay-scale progression of 1.5% to match the recompense received by other public servants.

The union said that since 2009, teachers had been receiving 0.5% less than other state employees on their pay scale.

Pay progression, which considers factors such as performance, competency and market rates, is the movement of an employee’s salary within a pay range.

At the union’s national general council two weeks ago, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga promised she would make a serious push for the finalisation of pay progression.

The union has given the minister 21 days to ensure the matter is put to bed.

On Wednesday, the union’s spokeswoman, Nomusa Cembi, said the two education departments had a seven-day deadline to respond adequately, "failing which we will ballot our members for a strike".

Although the union had raised the matters at various forums — including during bargaining council sessions — they remained unresolved, she said.

From the Department of Higher Education and Training the union demanded that the urgent release of the tertiary fees commission report gets facilitated by the department to ensure fee-free education for poor students is advanced as part of its constitutional obligations.

Corporate services deputy director-general Lulama Mbobo received the memorandum on behalf of the department.

The union insisted on immediate steps being taken to ensure that effective collective bargaining was restored and that the department returned to the bargaining forum and engaged in good faith on all issues of interest and right.

"The Department of Higher Education [and Training] has shown us that it does not take seriously the role of the union in representing the rights of college lecturers," Cembi said.

The department’s spokesman, Madikwe Mabotha, said while it was the prerogative of the union to voice its concerns to the departments, higher education and training would still have to apply its mind to the requests before responding.

gumedem@businesslive.co.za

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