Sadtu threat to strike against ‘collapsed’ Education Department

2014-06-05 00:00

THE threat of mass action and a possible teacher strike were made by the country’s largest teachers’ union at a press conference yesterday in which both the provincial Department of Education and the City Press newspaper received a severe caning.

“The Department of Education in KZN is either in a state of collapse or it has collapsed already,” said Mbuyiseni Mathonsi, provincial secretary of the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu).

Mathonsi said the provincial Education Department had “failed dismally” to act on a new management plan it had created. “Coupled with that is the fact that more than 2 000 office-based posts and more than 500 administrative positions still remain unfilled for at least the past five years.

“This, together with a lack of leadership in properly managing the transition from the old to a new structure, has created a serious collapse in the system.”

Mathonsi said that 2 000 teachers “remain unpaid since 2013” and added that 480 of these were found in a “deep rural area” serviced by the Ulundi district education office.

It was also claimed that the KZN department is employing temporary and “unprotected workers” as teachers and administrators. “This is despite our national government having passed the law regulating labour-brokering and preventing the abuse and casualisation of workers,” said Mathonsi. “We demand that all workers who have been temporary for more than three months be immediately converted to permanency.”

According to Mathonsi, this week Sadtu is looking at “case by case” grievances from its members — such as unpaid salaries and under-resourced schools — and next week will take these cases to the department’s district offices and demand they be dealt with.

If action is not forthcoming, Sadtu will then consider “raw mass action” including “sit-ins and marches”. Mathonsi said if that didn’t have the desired result then strike action would be considered and that would mean a “total shut-down”.

JOURNALIST Paddy Harper and the City Press were accused by the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) of publishing stories with a “toxic and misleading message” in which a “leading white journalist” pursued the agenda of “liquidating our organisation”.

In April, sister newspaper City Press brought to light corruption allegedly practised by senior Sadtu members who place principals in posts in return for bribes of at least R30 000 for each post. City Press has since run further articles detailing how Sadtu officials are allegedly selling not only principals’ posts, but are manipulating the education system across a number of provinces to control teachers’ appointments, retirement packages and transfers in return for bribes.

The City Press investigation was sparked by the arrest last month of a former Sadtu official and KwaZulu-Natal Education Department’s Ugu (lower South Coast) district director, Mfundi Sibiya, and a group of Sadtu principals for the murder of whistle-blower Nkosinathi Zondi, Nyon’emhlophe Primary School principal and also a Sadtu official. They have since been granted bail.

“City Press in its desperation for sale, like all profit dependent imperialist projects” has portrayed Sadtu as “dirty”, said Sadtu provincial secretary Mbuyiseni Mathonsi, who added that the newspaper had also portrayed the “entire black education system as corrupt and therefore unreliable”.

“Sadtu members are simply the best and they deserve promotion,” said Mathonsi. This was to be expected as “most of the people who will be promoted will in their majority come from the majority union”.

Mathonsi added Sadtu was still considering what “steps we will take against City Press for its lies about our organisation”.

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