SADTU protest a threat: Cope

By Drum Digital
23 April 2013

A national protest planned this week by the SA Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) poses a threat to the country's education, Cope said on Tuesday.

"Sadtu's latest call for thousands of teachers to abandon classrooms and join protest action... is a serious threat which could paralyse education, especially in rural areas," said Congress of the People MP Willie Madisha.

"Sadtu must be ashamed of its disgraceful conduct in our school system, because once again the union is victimising the children of our country, particularly the poor children who need the most in the way of development," he said.

Sadtu has announced that it will hold protest marches on Wednesday.

"Close to 25,000 Sadtu members are expected to take part in the national marches to the Union Buildings in Pretoria and Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday," it said in a statement.

"The marches are meant to increase the pressure on Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and her director general Bobby Soobrayan to resign from their... positions, in defence of collective bargaining and promotion of quality public education."

It said Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) president Sidumo Dlamini would lead the march in Pretoria, and his second deputy Zingiswa Losi the march in Cape Town.

On Monday, the basic education department and Sadtu failed to agree on whether the marches were legal.

Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said at the time the union had been granted permission by the City of Tshwane to march in Pretoria.

"We can state without any fear of contradiction that the mass action of April 24, to the Union Buildings in Tshwane, is legal," he said.

"It has come to our attention that the department of basic education is embarking on a futile exercise through various media platforms to mislead the country that our scheduled march on Wednesday, is illegal and unprotected."

The basic education department said drastic action would be taken against teachers who went on strike.

"The department has put systems in place to ensure that those embarking on this unprotected strike will be subjected to disciplinary processes," spokesman Panyaza Lesufi said in a statement.

In Pretoria, marchers planned to gather at the old Putco depot in Marabastad at 9am. They would march along Cowie, Struben, and Nelson Mandela Streets to the Union Buildings.

In Cape Town, the marchers would gather at 10.30am in Keizergracht and move along Darling, Adderley, Spin, and Plein Streets to Parliament.

Sadtu members have been on a national go-slow since pupils returned from the Easter holiday.

Democratic Alliance MP Annette Lovemore said the march was an attack on pupils' right to learn.

"Sadtu and Cosatu's calls for Grade 10 to 12 learners and teachers to stay away from schools tomorrow and join them in their planned illegal march to Parliament and other locations across the country is a flagrant attack on the constitutional rights of our learners."

Lovemore said she would ask the SA Human Rights Commission to investigate both Sadtu and Cosatu.

"I will also ask the chairperson of the portfolio committee on basic education, Hope Malgas, to summon both organisations to Parliament. Parliament must do everything possible to protect the rights of our children," she said.

Meanwhile, Western Cape education MEC Donald Grant called on pupils to ignore Sadtu's call.

"Parents should enquire what arrangements have been made that learners are supervised should any of their educators not arrive at work," said Grant's spokeswoman Bronagh Casey.

-Sapa

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