Sadtu threaten strike as talks remain deadlocked

2013-09-02 00:00

THE stand-off between the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union and the KwaZulu-Natal Education Department threatens to disturb schooling with a strike today.

Yesterday, Education MEC Senzo Mchunu said the union had not officially or otherwise informed him of its threatened strike.

“All I know is that I’m meeting Sadtu’s provincial executive committee at nine o’clock on Monday [today],” Mchunu said.

He said he was committed to addressing their issues and has set aside time in his schedule to engage with them.

Any disruption would be unwanted as it is just 55 days to go before matriculants sit for their final year exams and a week before the Annual National Assessments.

Mchunu seemed confident that by 1 pm this afternoon all the problems would have been resolved. “I’ll go out of my way to make sure the strike doesn’t continue,” he promised.

Last week there were numerous meetings between the union and the head of department, Nkosinathi Sishi, about challenges facing the workers.

Sadtu’s provincial executive committee (PEC) met on Thursday in Pietermaritzburg following a deadlock in the meeting between the union and Sishi that started on Tuesday last week around 12 pm and finished around 5 am the following day.

On Thursday, all workers in the department’s offices in Pietermaritzburg were chased out and forced to join a sit-in at the Burger Street offices where union leadership had been locked in a meeting with Sishi for the whole day.

KZN Sadtu deputy secretary Dolly Caluza said after characterising the development in education they came to the scientific conclusion that the department in KZN was on the verge of collapse.

Their meeting concluded that there is an observable incompetence on the part of planning, administration, and general management of the Education Department.

She said the lack of basic necessities had resulted in the workers bearing the brunt in one way or the other.

This affected more than 108 000 workers who are today owed more than R800 million by the department, she said.

“We are demanding that the HOD and the CFO be investigated forensically on the use of monies for norms and standards which were deducted from more than 3 000 schools under the disguise of equipping/ resources in the classrooms of the disadvantaged schools.”

By yesterday Mchunu said he was not aware that Sadtu in the province was planning to “down chalk” and abandon classrooms this morning.

According to Sadtu, their members are owed over R120 million in back pay, due to illegal salary deductions as a result of the no-work no-pay rule applied to the 2011 strike, and Adult Basic Education and Training (Abet) teachers are still paid according to the 2011 scale.

“We demand that they are correctly remunerated and given monies due to them as a result of the discrepancy,” Sadtu demanded.

They are also calling for an immediate suspension of the department’s head, Sishi.

They are also demanding the immediate filling of over 800 vacant posts in the offices of circuit inspectors.

“This is greatly impacting in the quality of education as inspectors are unable to do their work adequately,” the union said.

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