SADTU proves it does not care about children’s safety – Nomsa Marchesi

DA MP says union refused to read letter on having minimum service level for school staff

SADTU proves it does not care about children’s safety

21 June 2018

Today, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Nomsa Marchesi MP, and DA Gauteng Shadow MEC of Basic Education, Khume Ramulifho MPL, went to the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) headquarters to hand over a letter calling on the union to support our bid to have a minimum service level declared for key school staff by the Essential Services Commission (ESC).

SADTU officials proved today that they simply do not care about children’s safety by refusing to even read our letter to them. They eventually sent a security guard down to accept the letter.

The DA corresponded with SADTU ahead of our visit to their offices, stating our intention to hand over the letter. It is therefore disappointing that the union has mischaracterised our visit, claiming we intended to “barge into SADTU offices”, and refused to send an official to accept our letter.

They have also mischaracterised our call, saying that we are asking to make education an essential service. This is, however, an outright lie by SADTU. The DA has, for a long time, been calling for a declaration of a minimum service level for some school staff members and earlier this year, we submitted an application to the ESC on this.

We are pleased that the ESC has given our submission serious consideration and it is now up to SADTU to prove that it cares about the safety and security of all learners. SADTU wants to lock our children into poverty by jeopardising their futures whenever their members go on strike.

Abandoning learners to go on strike means that children are deprived of their rights to education, safety and security – there must always be senior staff members to ensure that children are not left unsupervised.

In requesting the ESC to establish a minimum service level, the DA raised three key concerns:

- Supervision: Adult supervision will ensure that children are safe from crime and violence, which have gripped schools across the country.

- Leadership and safety: During emergencies, senior school staff must communicate with emergency services or other authorities and make alternative arrangements where necessary. They must also ensure safety during union meetings or strikes.

- Nutrition, health and hygiene: Learners must always have access to food and clean facilities and it is the responsibility of school staff to ensure this. Staff also have to be available whenever there are medical emergencies. Learners with chronic illnesses and specific health requirements need constant care.

Establishing a minimum service level will therefore ensure that school staff members entrusted with protecting and caring for children carry out this duty.

We encourage all interested parties to submit comments regarding the establishment of a minimum service level. South Africa’s ever rising unemployment rate, which is currently at 9.5 million, will only go up if learners are denied quality education and prevented from learning.

Young people need to be properly prepared to enter the world of work and SADTU must ensure that this becomes a reality. We challenge SADTU to prioritise learners’ safety and education by publicly endorsing our call to make key school staff an essential service.

Issued by Nomsa MarchesiDA Shadow Deputy Minister of Basic Education, 21 June 2018