Teachers in mass walkout

2013-03-28 00:00

CLASSROOMS all over the province were disrupted when teachers marched out of class and on to the streets yesterday to protest against deteriorating work conditions and insufficient pay.

The protest follows a Labour Court ruling this week that reinstates a collective agreement that the Department of Basic Education signed with unions in 2011.

Earlier this month, the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) called on Education Minister Angie Motshekga and her director-general, Bobby Soobrayan, to resign, after their “unilateral” decision to withdraw from the collective agreement.

Sadtu then approached the Labour Court, alleging the withdrawal was an abuse of workers’ rights and a “blatant attack” on collective bargaining.

The matter has been set for a full hearing by the Labour Court from August 12 to 15.

Yesterday, several hundred teachers wearing red union T-shirts marched through the Pietermaritzburg CBD on their way to the provincial legislature.

The Witness reporters saw an unruly scramble for the T-shirts from the back of a van just before the march started.

Protestors were heard chanting songs describing Motshekga as “foolish” and “ugly”.

Sadtu KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary Mbuyiseni Mathonsi said Sadtu, which claims to have 60 000 members in the province, was opposing government proposals to make teaching an essential service and to install biometric fingerprinting of teachers to curb absenteeism, an initiative expected to cost about R480 million.

“An electronic machine is such a shame and a mess. There are schools that are under trees or don’t have an administration block. Where are you going to put that stupid machine? We refuse to be treated like kids,” he said.

One of the teachers told The Witness that her Grade 1 class had been shocked when she walked out of class.

“They were asking me where I was going and who they would be left with.

“I told them the principal would take care of them,” the teacher said.

Mathonsi also accused the KZN Education Department of structuring its budget in a way that exploited Grade R teachers.

“The department is paying these teachers a stipend. They are not able to take their children to school. They can’t go to hospital and they can’t survive. We’re tired of being taken for a ride by those we voted into power.”

Sadtu has threatened to prevent the issuing of report cards when schools break for Easter holidays today.

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