Teachers may strike over working hours
Johannesburg - Long hours and poor working conditions could lead Eastern Cape teachers to embark on protests, the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) in the province said on Thursday.
"The issue is around temporary teachers who were retrenched by the department [of education], leaving [permanent] teachers overworked," said spokesperson Nolitha Mboniswa.
Eastern Cape education department spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani said teachers were being redeployed from schools with a surplus of teachers to those where they were needed most in an annual redistribution based on subjects offered and pupil intake.
Mboniswa said some teachers - who normally worked about 26-and-a-half hours a week - were now forced to work more than 35 hours a week.
The strain of the added workload combined with the work left by the retrenched temporary staff and preparations for the year ahead meant teachers were overburdened.
Pulumani said the redistribution of teachers was aimed at ensuring the workload was more evenly distributed.
Where teachers needed to be moved, the district offices would make every effort to keep them near their homes and families.
"Temporary teachers who have a degree but no teaching qualifications cannot be employed as full-time teachers," Pulumani said.
"Often they refused to move from surplus schools - we call this 'double parking' - and this has been a bone of contention."
He said Sadtu and the department had bumped heads over this issue for the past 10 years, but they would keep working to resolve their differences.
Mboniswa said the union was not protesting for larger salaries, but for working conditions which would enable them to provide the best education possible for Eastern Cape pupils and improve pass rates.
"We are consulting with our members about what action should be taken.... We will do anything in our power to ensure we get our plight recognised," Mboniswa said.
African National Congress secretary general Gwede Mantashe was expected to meet the union later on Thursday.