Teachers still waiting for strike refunds

2011-01-15 18:08

Teachers whose salaries were cut for taking part in the crippling public service strike last year are yet to receive their money despite a court order forcing the Gauteng education department to refund them, say unions.

The department had until ­until December 31 to refund teachers, but failed to meet the deadline.

Teachers’ unions the Suid­Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie (SAOU) and the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa), which both have more than 20 000 members in Gauteng , took the department to the Labour Court last month over “administratively unfair” deductions.

Naptosa’s provincial chief ­executive, Michael Myburgh, said although he did not know the exact number of members affected, he believed it was around 7 500.

“Members had between one and five days deducted at the end of November. The rest was supposed to be deducted in ­February and March 2011,” ­Myburgh said.

The court ruled that deductions of teachers’ salaries could be made only once the provincial database on strike attendance had been corrected and verified.

But Gauteng education department spokesperson Charles Phahlane denied that the teachers had not yet been ­refunded. “We have done all the transfers in accordance with the ­order. There are about 100 educators out of nearly 7 000 that have not been paid because they have either resigned or their contracts have expired,” he said.

“We have requested unions to assist us in identifying them so that we can effect payment.”

Each education district was obliged to have a strike management team to collect information, monitor compliance and ensure that details needed for the implementation of “no work, no pay” were submitted.

SAOU and Naptosa told the court that the department had ­deducted money even from their members who had ­continued working during the strike.

One Gauteng high school teacher who was on strike for all 17 days said the department deducted more than R2 250 (10 days’ salary) in November.

The teacher, who didn’t want to be identified, said half of the deductions were reversed during the same month.

Amounts deducted from teachers differed according to individuals’ salaries.

The department wanted to deduct money for 31 days ,which included 17 days of striking and 14 for a period of disengagement when SA Democratic Teachers’ Union members were on a go-slow strike before the proper strike started.

Neither the SAOU nor Naptosa took part in the period of disengagement.

The national Department of Basic Education is to deduct a total of R5.1 billion from thousands of teachers who took part in the three-week public service strike between July and August last year.

The 17-day strike shut the public service down, including schools, hospitals and courts.

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