baptism of fire

ALL IN A ROW: Ministers applaud as their new colleagues are sworn in at the Presidential Guest House in Pretoria. 11/05/09. Pic. Peter Mogaki. © Sowetan.
ALL IN A ROW: Ministers applaud as their new colleagues are sworn in at the Presidential Guest House in Pretoria. 11/05/09. Pic. Peter Mogaki. © Sowetan.

Anna Majavu

Anna Majavu

Newly appointed Prisons, Education and Health ministers are already being given a final warning by public sector unions.

The unions say they have waited long enough for the implementation of the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) wage increases that they were promised after a bitter seven- week strike in 2007.

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) has threatened to "collapse the Correctional Services department completely" over the government's failure to give prison warders the wage increases promised to them in 2007.

Popcru spokesperson Benzi ka Soko said they would announce the kind of "action" the union would take tomorrow.

Ka Soko told Sowetan that former Correctional Services minister Ngconde Balfour had been "confrontational and adversarial - he dragged his feet and refused to grant prison workers the OSD increases".

He said although Balfour was replaced on Sunday by former Home Affairs minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, "unfortunately we must take an action that will collapse the department".

"We have been provoked for too long now," Ka Soko said.

Yesterday, public hospital doctors held lunch-time protests demanding a 50percent wage increase.

The pickets followed a three-week strike last month by doctors demanding their OSD increases and better working conditions in hospitals.

Yesterday, the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) said that while they would support new Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, they wanted the "filling of vacancies in government institutions to be given urgent attention because our members are being overworked, especially in hospitals".

The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) also warned new Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga yesterday that she should finalise the OSD wage increases for teachers.

Sadtu president Thobile Ntola said this "outstanding business had undermined the spirit of Polokwane".

Meanwhile, the DA slammed President Jacob Zuma's decision to make Angie Motshekga minister of Basic Education, saying that her appointment "will see children continuing to suffer from sub-standard education for years to come".

The DA's George Boinamo yesterday described Motshekga as a "Marxist" who tolerates teachers' unions when they disrupt education.

But Sadtu, the ANC Youth League and the Young Communist League say Motshekga will do just fine.

"She understands why we are saying that basic education is a priority," said the ANCYL's Floyd Shivambu. "There is nothing wrong with being a Marxist.

"We don't welcome opposition parties who want to dictate to Zuma who to appoint in an ANC-led government," said YCL spokesperson Castro Ngobese.

Ntola said his union would support Motshekga, who he expected to focus on early childhood education, and to develop a training plan for teachers.