Teachers union declares war

2008-03-19 00:00

KWAZULU-Natal teachers have declared war on the Education Department and warned the department’s top management, from the MEC to the D-G to the chief financial officer, that unless they resign forthwith, they will be “physically removed” by members.

At a fiery meeting in the Winston Churchill Theatre yesterday afternoon, about 700 angry members of teachers’ union Sadtu, protesting at the “illegal” docking of their salaries by the department (under their no-work-no-pay ruling regarding last year’s strike), have laid out a programme of immediate action, starting today when teachers will not attend schools throughout the region.

“Teachers have never been angrier,” said Sadtu regional chairman, Chris Ndela.

Regional secretary Sandile Zondi said the union has the full backing of the alliance (Cosatu, SACP and the ANC) and that they were going to “hit the department where it hurts most”.

The five-pronged programme of action agreed on at the meeting is:

1. Rolling mass action starting next Wednesday, March 26, which will include non-co-operation with the department on all joint projects and meetings;

2. Invasion of the department’s offices and disruption of their services during the holidays, with teachers occupying managers’ chairs and offices;

3. Should Education Department’s top management not resign immediately and honourably, members will “physically remove them”;

4. If salaries are docked on April 14, then on April 15 every teacher in KZN will “fall ill”.

5. Thereafter, all teachers will go on a go-slow campaign in which “it will take 45 minutes to open a book”.

Ndela told the emotional members that it was clear the department’s managers were not negotiating in good faith; were dishonest and could not be trusted as they had repeatedly reneged on past agreements over reversing the docking policy.

“Last week’s decision to keep docking salaries was counter to recent agreements, and they even brought in the Treasury to provide all sorts of technical reasons why they couldn’t reverse the process. This has been the last straw. Now it’s war, and I mean it.”

“They are going to listen to us once and for all,” said Ndela.

When regional secretary Sandile Zondi stood up to urge the teachers to “roll with mass action, roll, roll, roll”, the hall filled with cries of “Viva!” and “Amandla!” and scores of members broke into spontaneous songs and clapping.

“The department have given us their word and broken it too many times.

“Now they have told the court hearing today where we applied for an urgent interdict against the docking that they are not ready to respond. Well, we are!

“From today it is war and normal rules don’t apply!”

Ndela said that teachers were back where they started last year just before the national June strike. At the time, teachers had offered a recovery schedule of lost teaching and learning, which was put into action and included holiday and Saturday classes.

“But we have not been properly recompensed for that work. Teachers sent in some 50 000 affidavits to the department stating why they should not be docked, but the department accepted only 340 and declared all the rest were not authentic.”

Ndela also attacked a recent newspaper article that said that Sadtu had threatened to vote IFP if their demands were not met.

“I can tell you that IFP is such a dirty word around here that we don’t even use it. Jesus will come to earth again before we vote for the IFP,” he declared to loud cheering.

The Sadtu meeting was attended by members from throughout the Midlands region, including Greytown, Mooi River, Wartberg, Howick and as far afield as Eshowe.

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