DA welcomes ANC move to make education an essential service

04 February 2013 - 18:51 By Sapa
Teacher. File photo.
Teacher. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

The DA has welcomed the ANC's move on Monday to make education an essential service.

"This must lead to a clear definition of the limitations of strike action by teachers, which will help protect learners' rights to education," Democratic Alliance MP Annette Lovemore said in a statement.

"The decision by the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) that teaching should be regarded as an essential service supports the DA’s long-held position that teachers’ right to strike should be balanced with the best interests of learners," she said

Earlier, African National Congress secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the party and the government would leave no stone unturned in making education an essential service.

The ANC's sub-committee on education and health, chaired by Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor, would come up with approaches and, if necessary, mechanisms to ensure education was seen as an essential service.

Mantashe said: "We are a governing party and so we actually need to think broader than narrow trade union interest."

Lovemore said the DA would hold the ANC to this.

"Government must be guided by the best interests of South Africa’s learners and ensure that it does not wilt to pressure from the ANC’s alliance partner Sadtu [SA Democratic Teachers' Union]."

Mantashe said the ANC supported the youth employment support and incentive scheme, also known as the youth wage subsidy.

The scheme seeks to pay incentives to companies that absorb and employ young people.

"Anyone who absorbs the young and unemployed would be incentivised. We are committed to doing everything to ensure that young people have access to jobs and are employed," he said.

DA MP Tim Harris said the ANC was beating around the bush on the youth wage subsidy.

"It is time for them to give a final answer on whether the policy, as designed and budgeted for by National Treasury, will be implemented," he said.

"[A total of] 4.8 million young South African job seekers have been waiting for nearly three years to see the R5 billion subsidy implemented. They deserve better than this dithering."

Mantashe said there was a general agreement that the scheme would target young people, young graduates, and students in tertiary institutions who needed to complement formal study with practical work.

Harris said this was not the youth wage subsidy that was designed by the National Treasury to create the most jobs at the lowest cost and mitigate unintended consequences.

"That subsidy would be available for every job created below the tax threshold for 18 to 19-year-old workers. It is not clear how this 'scheme' Mr Mantashe is referring to would subsidise actual jobs created," he said.

The ANC had caved in to the Congress of SA Trade Unions by watering down Treasury's policy.