Pupils ‘must stay away from school’

2013-04-23 10:31

Union federation Cosatu and affiliated teachers’ unions have asked high school pupils to take a day off to join a protest march against education inequality.

“We feel everyone must make a sacrifice of one day to highlight the inadequacy of their schools,” Western Cape Cosatu secretary Tony Ehrenreich told Cape Town daily, Cape Times.

Pupils from grades 10 to 12 were reportedly asked to join in the march to Parliament tomorrow.

“Close to 25 000 Sadtu (SA Democratic Teachers’ Union) members are expected to take part in the national marches to the Union Buildings in Pretoria and Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday,” Sadtu said in a statement today.

“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.”

Union members were protesting because Motshekga had withdrawn from an agreement which would have increased the tariffs paid to matric markers.

They were also protesting about the Limpopo textbook saga, school closures in the Western Cape and education inequality.

Sadtu provincial secretary Jonovan Rustin told the newspaper teachers had already discussed how they would make up the work missed.

It said Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini would lead the march in Pretoria, and his second deputy Zingiswa Losi would lead the march in Cape Town.

Yesterday, the basic education department and Sadtu failed to agree whether the marches were legal.

Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said at the time that 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,” spokesperson Panyaza Lesufi said in a statement.

“[We] wish to stress that it is permissible by law to strike, yet an illegal strike of this nature will not be condoned and those wishing to take part must bear in mind the consequences of their actions.”

In Pretoria, marchers were planning 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 street and would move down Darling, Adderley, Spin and Plein streets to Parliament.

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

According to the Cape Times, provincial education MEC Donald Grant said the march was not in the best interests of pupils.

“Once again, the best interests of learners are being placed at risk at what is for all of them a critical time in the academic year,” his spokeswoman Bronagh Casey said.

“As usual, everything will be done to minimise any disruption for the learners.”

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