OVER 25,000 striking teachers in the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) are taking to the streets today for a national march to the Union headquarters in Pretoria and to Parliament in Cape Town.
The march is part of the union’s drive to get Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, and the Director-General of Education in South Africa, Bobby Soobrayan, to resig
SADTU first called for the minister’s resignation in March after the department pulled out of a labour agreement that was signed in 2011.
The agreement centred on wage increases for matric ulation paper markers.
The department later withdrew from the agreement, saying it was ‘unimplementable’. The matter is now before the Labour Court.
SADTU has since been engaging in industrial action including work-to-rule and strikes.
The union’s General Secretary Mugwena Maluleke said it was expecting over 20,000 members to take part in the march in Pretoria, and more than 5,000 members are set to gather in Cape Town.
He said that after the march, the union would revert to the work-to-rule action, during which teachers would work only the minimum seven hours required and not perform additional duties such as extra classes or attending training workshops.
Other unions including the the South African Democratic Nurses’ Union and the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa have pledged to support SADTU.
The union’s spokesman, Nomusa Cembi, speaking on Monday, added: ‘We will be marching to the Union buildings and to Parliament today to call for the resignation of the minister and the director-general.
‘We are urging our teachers to go to school and teach for the minimum of seven hours with no extra classes.’
Meanwhile, a strike by Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit drivers which started on Saturday is continuing.
The strike by bus drivers from Piotrans, the company that operates the Rea Vaya service, is related to salary progression and the status of drivers who were shareholders in the company but have now been told by management that they no longer have shares in the company.
A separate nationwide strike of bus workers began last Thursday as a result of a pay dispute at the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) have released a statement in support of the striking busworkers and other workers.
Their statement says: ‘Cosatu in the North West province supports the strikes by workers in their demand for better wages.
‘The workers are demanding a pay increase of 17% and the employers are offering a meagre 3%, which is far below the rate of inflation.
‘For us this offer means that the workers must take a pay cut of about 3% while the bosses continue to enjoy the profits they make out of the sweat of the same workers.
‘COSATU also supports the strike at Rainbow Chickens where workers are demanding an increase of 700 Rand per month while the employers are offering 6% which is about 30 Rand.
‘Workers are also demanding a 40-hour week and to stop working long hours.
‘It is disappointing to hear that the employer, Rainbow, employed security with very expensive cars from Durban, and employed young people age from 12 to 21 years.
‘Some have no ID and some from outside South Africa with no permit.
‘All the demands made by the workers are in line with the resolution of the COSATU Collective Bargaining Conference which was held last month.
‘The leadership in the North-West visited the workers and requested them to continue to be united under the Farm and Allied Workers Union (FAWU), as one of the COSATU affiliates, to build a strong union and strong federation.’
‘The employer is warned that come Monday, April 22, they must have met with (FAWU) to resolve the strike and give workers what is due to them.
‘We are warning Rainbow Chicken that they must stop using labour brokers when workers are on a protected strike or the federation will intensify the strike by calling a boycott of the Rainbow products.
‘We also want to warn the managers at the company Game that they must withdraw all cases against workers who attended the 2012 COSATU rally at Rustenburg, and that all the workers’ issues registered following our listening campaign must be resolved by Tuesday or COSATU will have no option but to strike.
‘Workers have also complained about very high racism and victimisation of South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU) members, in particular when dealing with the regional chairperson who works for Game, issues of skills development, over-loading of workers and treating contract workers as if they’re in the farms.
‘Game management must change their attitude towards the workers and towards union leaders.
‘COSATU have noted with disappointment that in the past two decades the workers’ share in the GDP of the country has declined while the economy continued to grow and the profit of the companies and bonuses of the bosses have reached a new high in the economy, thus creating huge income inequalities between the rich and the poor.
‘Even after 19 years of democracy, African black people are still oppressed; white people are still holding key strategic positions in companies.
‘Black people are still being paid less than white people who sit in offices without doing anything.
‘COSATU calls on all the employers in these companies to accede to the workers’ demands in order to resolve the strike speedily.’
On another matter COSATU has also noted the ‘arrogant attitude and the continued victimisation of trade union members by Game stores which wanted to discipline workers for participating in legal union activities and have now chosen to selectively stop this discipline on some workers while continuing on the others.
‘COSATU call on Game to withdraw all the cases against workers with immediate effect.
‘We call on the Department of Labour to visit Rainbow chicken and Game store for a full investigation into non-compliance.
‘Workers must be given their demands as presented to the employer.
‘We note the attitude of the Minister of Education and her supporters against our affiliate SADTU.
‘We need to intensify our support to our members in the education sector to deal with such arrogance and misleading statements to the public by the minister who was voted into power by the same workers who are being exploited on a daily basis by our own government.
‘As part of our recruitment and membership service drive in May 2013 we will take up the long outstanding matter of supply teachers who are being used to clean up the mess of some politicians and officials.
‘Our demand is that both the temporary and ABET educators must be employed permanently.
‘Our support to the recalling of the minister and members of the executive council is unapologetic to anyone.
‘They must resign or we will have to lead a full campaign against them as we are facing the 2014 national election.’