Govt staff locked out in 'war' with union
Johannesburg - Demonstrating members of the SA Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) padlocked the main gate of the Eastern Cape education department's head office in Zwelitsha on Tuesday, the department said.
"Early this morning they put a chain and padlock on the gate to lock out our staff," said spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani.
Senior management tried to negotiate with the union members, to no avail.
Pulumani said there were no reports of violence, but Education MEC Mandla Makupula had taken up the matter with Sadtu's provincial leadership.
Sadtu provincial secretary Mncekeleli Ndongeni claimed the police had used tear-gas against the protesters.
The union and the department are in conflict over the redeployment of temporary teachers in the province.
The Eastern Cape High Court in Bhisho would hear an application by the department to prevent further industrial action.
Ndongeni said teachers were exploring various avenues to get the plight of overburdened teachers recognised and rectified by the department.
"There is anarchy in the schools... the whole mess, [head of department Modidima] Mannya has caused."
The purpose of the union's demonstrations was to "put some pressure" on the provincial education department.
Pulumani said the protests, which had also affected the department's offices in Grahamstown, East London and Queenstown, constituted fully-fledged industrial action.
Ndongeni said the protests were justified.
"All is not well in our schools... it is a war."
"When children are being denied education by government politicians, what are we supposed to do?"