THE South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) says Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement is a slap in the face to public servants, including educators.
On Wednesday, the minister announced during the presentation of the mid-term budget policy statement that the wage bill would be the biggest contributor to the R300 billion savings they want to accumulate to address the budget deficit.
Mboweni said that government will put a wage freeze for the next three years, among other options.
“The Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement delivered by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has left us with no joy. It is a slap in the face to hard working educators and public servants,” said SADTU in a statement.
“The Statement has clearly shown the unpreparedness of the Treasury to honour the last leg of Collective Agreement 1 2018 which would have ensured salary increments for public sector employees including educators.”
This comes after public sector unions took to the Labour Court over government’s decision not to honour the last year of a multi-year wage agreement.
SADTU said the statement by the minister made a mockery of the call to build a capable, effective and efficient development state.
The teachers union said there is no way in which anyone can achieve such a state with public servants who are hungry and can’t afford even a meal, nor to feed their families.
“Such unhappy, overworked, demoralised workers will never be in a position to deliver the quality service which the President of the country always speaks about,” added SADTU.
Mboweni announced that Treasury is proposing a public service wage bill that will grow by 1.8% in 2020 and by an average 0.8% over the next three years.
He said this was essential for fiscal sustainability.
“With no increases in the horizon, teachers’ plight will worsen and will retire more poor as they will have to rely on their retirement even before they retire because government will now present legislation next year to allow for limited pre-retirement withdrawals under certain circumstances. Teachers will be forced to rely on these to send their children to tertiary education and housing and to make ends meet. The future is bleak,” said SADTU.
“Public servants, in fact, are going to be trapped in a vicious cycle of debt and vulnerable to loan sharks in order to make ends meet,” said SADTU.
“People lost their lives fighting for bargaining processes and structures to be put in place so that there could be labour peace. These processes and structures should be respected and protected to the letter,” added SADTU.
SADTU’s general secretary Mugwena Maluleke described the budget Statement as ‘scandalous’.
“This budget is scandalous. It is a declaration of a strike. There will be no money to train teachers on how to approach the new normal,’ said Maluleke.
“This changes everything. We are going to mobilize our members and society to engage with government to understand the importance of education. When there is a declaration of a strike you can only strike back.”
(COMPILED BY INSIDE POLITICS STAFF)