Grade R teachers tell Sishi they don’t want sushi, but just to afford bread

2013-03-13 00:00

WHILE Finance MEC Ina Cronjé delivered her budget speech at the Legislature yesterday, local kindergarten teachers picketed outside demanding a pay increase.

The teachers sang, danced and waved their placards, saying they were not happy with their salaries of R4 000 a month.

“Your budget speech is useless if it does not pay salaries for the Grade R teachers,” one placard read.

One protester, Zinhle Buthelezi from Nteneshane Primary School, said she has been teaching the beginners’ class for eight years.

She said she was not happy about the R4 000 she gets every month.

Buthelezi said she was battling to take care of her family of 10 as a sole breadwinner, adding that they had no medical aid or housing allowances.

Buthelezi said she was offering an essential service to children.

“Even though the money is little we still go to school because we love children,” she said.

The teachers also said they were disheartened by recent remarks by the head of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education, Dr Nkosinathi Sishi, who reportedly said that Grade R teachers were not really teachers.

“Some of us are qualified and we went to school to study teaching. We’re not nannies,” said Thandiwe Madonsela.

One of the placards said: “Dr Sishi we don’t want Sushi, we want bread. Is that too much to ask for?”

National Teachers’ Union deputy president, Allen Thompson, said in South Africa officials only listen when there are violent protests.

He said KZN was the only province where there had not been any adjustment to the Grade R practitioners’ salaries since 2011.

Thompson said they were giving the department seven days to address their issue or else they would down tools. Sishi said he respected all the teachers and was empathetic, saying his department would work hard to find solutions.

However, he added that there was very little they could do because in the department’s budget will be reduced by R2,5 billion over the next three years.

Sishi said they want every teacher to be in class and not on the streets, threatening that the rule of “no work no pay” would apply to those who took part in the protest.

Sadtu’s deputy provincial secretary said in January that Grade R teachers work the same hours as other teachers, but have not been getting the increases their colleagues received.

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