Dept: Poor hardest hit by teacher strike

2013-04-24 22:18
Pupils take part in a national strike organised by Sadtu. (Jerusha Sukhdeo, News24)

Pupils take part in a national strike organised by Sadtu. (Jerusha Sukhdeo, News24)

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Sadtu storms Union Buildings

2013-04-24 17:30

Police struggled to control thousands of striking union members at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Watch protesters push through police barriers in an attempt to enter the buildings. WATCH

Johannesburg - A protest march held by the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) exclusively affected pupils from poor communities, the department of basic education said on Wednesday.

"From the reports received thus far, its goes without saying that learners who were affected are exclusively children from poor communities," said department spokesperson Panyaza Lesufi.

"What concerns us the most is the fact that learners were forced to take part in the protest march.''

Reports indicated that the North West province was the most affected, with 2 048 teachers reported to be absent while 18 schools were shut down across the four districts, he said.

In the Western Cape,  2474 teachers were reported absent from school while 163 schools were affected and a total of 48 schools were closed.

The Capricon district in Limpopo experienced disruptions.

Gauteng reports were still being correlated.

Lesufi said there were no reports of major disruptions in the Eastern Cape, Free State, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal.

As protesting teachers demanded the head of Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, the Congress of SA Trade Union (Cosatu) warned her not to discipline those who joined in Wednesday's marches.

"We are calling for the minister not to even think of that [punishment]. There is fire already, don’t pour oil on the fire," Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini told teachers marching in Pretroia.

Protesters took to the streets in Pretoria and Cape Town.

One protester shouted: "This can be another Marikana. We don't care."

While tourists visiting the Union Buildings used cameras and cellphones to photograph the protest, the vendors outside packed up their wares.

As a police helicopter hovered overhead, the protesters moved away from the buildings and back to its lawns.

Disgusted

In Cape Town, more than a thousand Sadtu protesters marched on Parliament, intent on delivering a set of demands to government.

Outside Parliament's main gates in Plein Street, Cosatu Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich told protesters the trade union federation supported them "without reservation", and would join them if their calls were not heeded.

"If the government does not listen to the voices of the teachers today, we want to assure them that all of the members in Cosatu, all the 260,000 members in the Western Cape, will come and join you to make sure that we fix the problems in education," he said.

Sadtu delivered a memorandum containing a series of demands to government, giving it 21 days to respond.

In Pretoria earlier, Dlamini said structural deficiencies in the South African education system had to be urgently addressed.

Cosatu hoped government would "get to its knees and speak to Sadtu".

Sadtu had expected about 25 000 of its members to take part in the Pretoria and Cape Town marches, but only a fraction of this number arrived.

Many of the protesting teachers - who the education department warned would face disciplinary action and the application of the no-work, no-pay rule for taking the day off - wore red T-shirts with a variety of messages printed on them.

These included "Every Child Needs A Teacher" and "Promote Quality Public Education".

The Democratic Alliance said on Wednesday it was "disgusted and angered" by what it called Sadtu's abuse of children's rights for political point scoring.

"We share the anger that both parents and children must feel at the loss of such crucial teaching time," DA MP Annette Lovemore said in a statement.

The SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry commended the education department for warning teachers not to take part in the marches. The issues could have been resolved through negotiation.

"So there is no need to disrupt education en masse. It is worth noting that a 'march' or strike has exactly the same impact on pupils; if teachers are not in classrooms, then the education system falls apart," it said in a statement.

- SAPA
Read more on:    sadtu  |  cosatu  |  da  |  tony ehrenreich  |  angie motshekga  |  annette lovemore  |  education
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