The South African Democratic Teachers Union has noted with disdain the comments attributed to the Premier of the North West Provincial government Supra Mahumapelo regarding the salaries of certain government employees. It is reported that the North West Provincial Government will “most likely” cut the salaries of certain public servants during the 2017 financial year.
It is most regrettable that the Premier of the province makes such pronouncements, which have policy implications, outside of the relevant platforms. We view this as another attempt, by those that have been lent the opportunity to lead, to undermine collective bargaining processes.
Such a pronouncement, if indeed eventually implemented as policy, will inevitably have adverse effects on those public servants. It is thus unacceptable that the leader of the government in the North West Province can make such a pronouncement before even engaging those likely to be affected, through the relevant platforms. We see this as a populist stance and an act intended to divert attention from the real problems in the Province that led to the R2,9bn irregular expenditure in the last financial year.
We have more than enough reasons to believe that the problems we are referring to are most likely related to weak political leadership at the provincial level, and to corruption.
These are the same weaknesses that even forced us as a Union to go to court to compel the Provincial government to pay temporary teachers what is due to them; and this happens in a country that has declared education a key government priority.
We are by no means speaking in defence of the salaries that senior government officials earn; our biggest concern, however, is that those likely to be affected have not been engaged at the relevant platforms. If such could be allowed to happen now, then we do not have a guarantee that it will not happen to the rest of the public service at all levels. We fought hard to establish the collective bargaining chambers in defence of the rights of the workers and we will fight even harder to ensure that they are afforded the required respect by the employer.
The premier, through his ill-timed pronouncement, has reduced public servants into mere spectators on sensitive issues that directly affect them. This is the same premier that then expects these public servants to perform optimally in their duties and deliver services to our people. The North West Premier’s behaviour in this regard is reminiscent of the pre-democracy government of Bophuthatswana, a government that saw public servants as objects and not human beings that needed to be consulted on issues that affect them directly.
We are calling on the Premier of the North West Province to get off his high horse, refrain from populist rhetoric and come to the ground through the relevant platforms to engage public servants in the province before making policy-related pronouncements.
It would be advisable, and rather more useful, for the Premier to focus on providing us with a plan on how the public service will be resourced to ensure service delivery to the people of the North West; how schools are going to be assisted during this academic year including on how he will ensure that more classrooms are built; and that there is electricity and water in our schools amongst others.
The Premier must further advise us on how he plans to halt the looting of the public purse in the Province so that resources can be directed towards where they are needed the most. We urge him to lead the campaign against those who steal from the poor instead of demoralising public servants, as he sees them as a soft target.
We say No! to undermining collective bargaining, and No! to union-bashing!
Issued by SADTU