By Sifiso Nhlabatsi | 2017-09-13
TEACHERS have resolved to down tools today and accompany their National Executive Committee (NEC) to the Joint Negotiation Forum (JNF) between Government Negotiating Team (GNT) and Public Sector Associations (PSAs). The resolution was taken yesterday at the SNAT Centre during an Extraordinary General Meeting, where teachers were updated on the progress of the GNT and PSAs on the cost of living adjustment. The aggrieved teachers stated that the 0 per cent offered by government was an insult considering that inflation is digging deeper into their pockets and as days go by, stretching into another financial year, an already bad situation will only get worse. The teachers said the choice was theirs whether to fold arms and perish in despair or to stand up and fight against injustice or economic enslavement. Teachers also suggested that not only will they accompany their leadership to the JNF today but they also suggested that tomorrow they will be going to the ministry of education and training to demand food for schools as there is no food and pupils are starving. SNAT President Freedom Dlamini when addressing the meeting stated categorically clear that what the teachers will be doing today is not a strike but they are simply accompanying the leadership to the negotiating table, where they will hear for themselves the ongoing negotiations on the issue of the 0 per cent offered by government. Dlamini also informed teachers that logistics of how they will get to Mbabane will be communicated to them via WhatsApp. He stated that unlike in the past where they had time to prepare transport logistics this time around the call has been at short notice which is why they were going to be communicating via social networks pertaining logistics. Teachers during the meeting expressed their displeasure at the way government is handling the negotiations, saying their employer was playing hide and seek with the PSAs. Updating the teachers on the cost of living adjustment (COLA) issue was SNAT Secretary General Zwelithini Mndzebele, who stated that as PSAs they crafted a demand of 9.15 per cent which included the average inflation of 7.85 per cent from April 2016 to March 2017 and the economic growth of 1.3 per cent during the same period. Mndzebele stated however that they were offered 0 per cent which teachers regard as an insult. He said the PSAs demanded that a deadlock be signed since government was negotiating in bad faith. He said following a number of fruitless meetings with the GNT and government’s unpreparedness to sign a deadlock they then decided as PSAs to recharge their mandate from their members. convinced He said as PSAs’ National Executive Committees they are convinced that they have done everything they could to persuade government to see things objectively but to no avail. He said the negotiations at the JNF particularly on COLA were inexorably moving towards a dead end. Yesterday, members of SNAT made it very clear during submissions that they were shocked as to why the cost of living adjustment had to be negotiated, saying such was wrong as they expected to be negotiating for salary increments. Mndzebele said yesterday’s meeting follows another meeting that the SNAT held at the beginning of this month. He said in that meeting the challenges faced by teachers were highlighted including the rendering of the Joint Negotiations Forum by Government dysfunctional, introduction of electronic gadgets to monitor teachers in schools and some pending court cases against SNAT which include but not limited to the HODs case and the equal pay for work of equal value of work case. He said it is however disheartening to note some of these problems continue to haunt them because government never treats its workers with dignity. Mndzebele added that as SNAT they were able to win against government on the electronic gadgets in court and were able to force government to reconvene the JNF after the march they had on June 14, where they recorded the highest attendance in many years. The secretary general highlighted that the other issues were still pending before the courts of the land. He said the successes that were recorded by SNAT were due to the concerted efforts of all of SNAT members as educators in the country. He said it therefore goes without saying that if they are to be victorious in all issues including the current battle on the cost of living adjustments, a similar approach has to be adopted. The challenges which are currently part of the 2017-18 JNF agenda according to Mndzebele include appeals process, cost of living adjustments, allowances and the negotiations framework.
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