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Cape Town - A biometric register to crack down on teacher absenteeism would not be introduced without union buy-in, Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said on Thursday.
Briefing journalists in Cape Town, Sisulu said she was planning to meet the SA Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) on the introduction of the system announced by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga last month.
With the new system, teachers' fingerprints would be scanned, and the data connected to other systems, such as the public service salary system.
Sisulu's comments come after Sadtu threatened indefinite strike action if Motshekga did not resign.
Sadtu said it had lost confidence in Motshekga's ability to lead, citing several concerns, including the introduction of a biometric clock-in system.
The unions accused Motshekga of misrepresenting studies which found alarming rates of teacher absenteeism.
Sisulu defended Motshekga by saying: “What she was indicating in the media was that the biometric test that she is proposing was piloted in the Northern Cape and it has worked in the Northern Cape and she was now suggesting it could go on to other provinces.”
Sisulu was, however, quick to point out that Motshekga would not have the final say on whether the biometric system would be implemented.
“Even if she pronounced on this she would have needed to get to me so we can deal with the conditions of service of teachers, because conditions of service is my domain,” she said.
Sisulu said she had asked Sadtu to meet with her on the issue.
“Sadtu and ourselves have agreed to meet to discuss this matter and see how to resolve it and ensure that we are able to live up to the expectations of teachers, and that they will not go on strike,” she said.
If the new system was introduced, it would replace the manual signing in by teachers, which was open to manipulation. - Sapa