Unions' war rattles TVET colleges

Sadtu members at the union's ninth national congress in Nasrec Johannesburg. /ANTONIO MUCHAVE
Sadtu members at the union's ninth national congress in Nasrec Johannesburg. /ANTONIO MUCHAVE

A war for membership between two public sector Cosatu unions is causing destabilisation in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges.

Speaking at the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) congress in Nasrec yesterday, higher education and training minister Blade Nzimande said this must end.

He said Sadtu and its sister union, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu), were at each other's throats over who has organising powers in the TVET college sector.

"I won't be able to choose between the two unions. There are a number of pertinent issues that affect the lecturing staff within the TVET and Community Education and Training (CET) college sector. These relate to the professional and regulatory body for lecturers and the Sadtu bargaining councils.

"We are trying our best as the department and we have placed the matter before the bargaining council. The two unions must sit down and sort out their problems," he said.

He said the impasse was causing destabilisation in TVET colleges.

"The designation of a relevant bargaining chamber for post-school education and training college lecturers has been a thorny issue in the various bargaining councils for some time now. In an effort to resolve these difficulties the department engaged with the general secretary of the public service coordinating bargaining council for advice and to possibly speed up the resolution of the challenges relating to the appropriate bargaining structure until the parties agreed to establish a new structure relevant to public colleges."

Sadtu's general secretary, Mugwena Maluleke said the union's leadership had done everything to engage Nehawu.

"A meeting was set to engage with Nehawu but former president Sdumo Dlamini said they would not debate the matter. Sadtu must just hand over the TVET and CET members to Nehawu.

"We raised the matter at the central executive committee (CEC), which committed to convene the presidents of all the unions but this has failed. The CEC further resolved to convene a meeting of presidents and general secretaries of all the unions but this also failed," Maluleke said.

Nehawu spokesperson Khaya Xaba said they hoped at the end of congress Sadtu would come out united and revitalised to fight for better wages and working conditions for teachers.

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