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The Matric Markers Fiasco

 

THE MATRIC MARKERS FIASCO

 

 The most recent decision of the Minister of Basic Education to withdraw from Collective Agreement 1 of 2011 (matric tariffs)  is shameful and potentially explosive and will require the collective wisdom of experienced leaders to find a way out of the impasse said Mr Basil Manuel, President of NAPTOSA.

 

As far as NAPTOSA is concerned, the issue confronting teacher unions and the Department of Basic Education is not just about marking tariffs, as important as that may be, but rather the undermining of collective bargaining by the Employer and the consequences that may result from this breach of good faith.

 

The discontent around the failure to implement the collective agreement which determines the matric marking tariffs has its roots in the negotiation process in 2010. During that year, teacher unions in the ELRC negotiated a 100% increase in the tariffs for matric markers and other examination related work.

 

In April of 2011 the agreement was signed by the Director General, Mr Bobby Sooybrayan. However, in November 2011, the department’s disregard for collective bargaining became apparent when it announced that the collective agreement was said to be incorrect, invalid, not mandated and could not be funded. Subsequently parties obtained legal opinion and in May 2012 the DBE declared a dispute in the ELRC, only to withdraw the dispute in February 2013, followed by the most recent decision to terminate the Collective Agreement in terms of provisions provided for in the Labour Relations Act. This action by the Minister is unprecedented in the history of the ELRC and marks a low point in collective bargaining said Mr Manuel.

 

For more than two years the DBE has failed to resolve a problem which is of their making.  NAPTOSA and other unions downplayed the fiasco in Dec 2011 and again in Dec 2012 when educators were engaged in marking as the unions did not want the marking process to be disrupted said Mr Manuel. 

 

Mr Manuel said that very serious concerns have been raised about the lack of communication within the DBE as well as the competence of senior officials. It is unheard of that an Employer can negotiate, sign an agreement and then claim that is not a mandated position.

 

NAPTOSA and all the other unions in the ELRC have requested the General Secretary to issue the Department of Education a compliance order to implement the collective agreement. 

 

NAPTOSA calls on the Minister to reconsider the decision to withdraw from the collective agreement in the interest of labour peace in a sector that cannot afford any disruptions to the teaching and learning process.