Provincial Treasury hamstrings Education over overtime

Issued by Yusuf Cassim, MPL
Shadow MEC for Education

The Provincial Treasury is withholding R15 million in authorised overtime from departmental staff involved with examinations, who have subsequently downed tools, bringing critical services to assist recent matric graduates to a complete standstill.

I have reliably learnt that roughly 360 staff, including examination staff at a district level and provincial level, Human Resources and Salaries as well as internal control, have downed tools.

This will have a devastating impact on all examination functions, such as remarking of matric exam papers, issuing of matric certificates, and producing statements of results at this critical time after Matric results have been released.

It also poses significant risks to the next payroll cycle, and HR functions at a time where more than 600 schools have critical staff vacancies that need to be addressed. This will also impact close to 10,000 general assistants and education assistants have still not been paid after working for three months.

A capable, caring government would honour its agreements.

It is a shocking indictment that the Eastern Cape is apparently the only province in the country withholding overtime.

The dispute stems from Provincial Treasury refusing to pay overtime rates for time worked, despite all the relevant authorisations being finalised, at a national level, since October last year. Provincial Treasury says they will only pay normal rates, as the staff were not deemed essential services.

The Democratic Alliance understands that the province is trying to clamp down on unnecessary overtime, but this is not the case here. These workers placed themselves at risk at a time when Covid-19 infections were on the rise, to pick up the

The withholding of funds is not just causing immediate damage, but has long term implications, as staff will not make themselves available in future for the examination process.

I will be writing to the MEC of Finance, Mlungisi Mvoko, to ask that he immediately intervenes to resolve the impasse.

I will also be writing to the acting Superintendent General, Dr Nuku, to request that temporary measures are immediately implemented to minimise the disruptions caused, until such time as this situation is resolved.