Raise for Grade R teachers

2013-05-14 00:00

GRADE R teachers will be getting an extra R1 000 in their bank accounts, but they don’t yet know when the increase will kick in.

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education entered into a “principle agreement” with unions to increase Grade R teachers’ salaries from R4 000 to R5 000 on Friday.

The cash-strapped department announced early this year that it could not afford to pay the Grade R teachers what was due to them, but has since made a U-turn.

Department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said the matter was still to be taken to chamber where it would be decided how the increase would be implemented.

The unions have been battling it out on the streets and in boardrooms to get the department to upgrade the pre-school teachers’ pay.

The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) had previously compared the early childhood development teachers’ salaries with a “stipend” and said they were being “exploited”.

Sadtu KZN general secretary Mbuyiseni Mathonsi welcomed the increment, but said the union would go back to the drawing board to negotiate further.

“This [increase] is the product of our protests and work to rule… and now they have responded to our call of a minimum salary of R5 000. At least it’s a starting point,” he said.

Mathonsi said the union would still discuss the terms of employment, among other issues.

Sadtu will also be approaching the Education Labour Relations Council this week.

Deputy president of the National Teachers’ Union Allen Thompson said Natu was not satisfied with the increase and negotiations were ongoing.

Natu will be meeting its members to inform them about the increase.

The union protested outside the provincial legislature during the budget speech of Ina Cronjé, MEC for Finance, demanding an increase.

“The last time these teachers had an increase was in 2011 and we still feel they’re being robbed … we want the increase to be on a par with other provinces,” Thompson said, adding that they were hoping for R7 000.

He said Grade R teachers did not take leave and had no benefits such as medical aid and housing allowance.

“I can tell you this, these teachers are demotivated. So, it’s difficult to say we’re excited,” Thompson added.

• gabisile.ngcobo@witness.co.za

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