Anger over teacher pay docking

2008-02-03 00:00

Teachers' unions in the province have threatened a "full-on war" should the Education Department proceed with rumoured plans to dock teachers’ salaries in February in order to get back money owed by strikers — without fully processing the affidavits of over 45 000 teachers to ascertain who should be exempt.

The department docked salaries in August and double docked them in November last year.

They were scheduled to do so again this February, as they did not deduct in the holiday months of December and January following a request by the unions.

However, unions say salary docking at this stage would be breaching their agreement with the government.

"We don’t understand why this provocative department is putting its dirty finger into our eye. We are warning it: if it wants education to run smoothly, it must follow the correct procedure in the dockings."

That was the strong message sent by the National Teachers’ Union (Natu).

Musa Gumedeh, the media liaison officer for the union, said Natu is not against the principle of "no work, no pay", but wants it applied procedurally.

"The department argued that it received more than 45 000 affidavits from its employees and it doesn’t have sufficient manpower to read them before applying docking.

"It also stated that it would dock the salaries and pay for recovery lessons at the same time, to ease the burden on employees."

However, Gumedeh claims this has not been the case.

He said the department must acknowledge each affidavit, giving convincing reasons as to why each individual case is being turned down, before they even begin thinking about docking salaries.

SA Democratic Teacher’s Union (Sadtu) spokesman Sipho Nkosi said an emergency meeting with the department was called last Friday to address the issue.

Nkosi said the department asked for affidavits from teachers who deny that they were on strike, so they must process them.

The department could not be reached for comments, but in the past they have maintained that the principle of "no work, no pay" is an internationally accepted concept and that teachers who took part in the strike will have their salaries docked for the days they didn’t work.

Superintendent-general Cassius Lubisi said last year that the National Treasury instructed that all strike-related deductions must be completed by the end of March 2008.

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