Teachers still in pay feud

2008-05-14 00:00

IT has been almost a year since the national strike action that lead to the salary docking feud between teachers and their employer, the Education Department. However, the docking debacle appears to be a long way from over.

Many teachers claim to have received letters from the department, which is resolved on docking up to 21 days’ pay even from those who claim they did not take part in the strike.

Despite the protests, fuming educators, emotional appeals, pending court actions and various threats posed by unions, the department has stuck to its guns, saying it was responding to a national directive from the minister of Public service and Administration on the “no work, no pay” rule that applies to all public servants who took part in the strike, including teachers.

While the question of whether the department bit off more than it could chew in its implementation of the contentious affidavits as a measure used to qualify whether educators participated in the strike might arise, one thing is clear — the process has dragged on too long and there are too many questions that have remained unanswered.

Teachers unanimously agree that it is time that Education MEC Ina Cronjé accounts for the actions of her department.

Since the first dockings in August last year, educators in the province have been unhappy.

Teachers who say they taught when others didn’t are being pushed from pillar to post and are yet to find the relevant people in the department who can attend to their queries.

Speaking to The Witness, some complained they had their salaries docked without receiving any official letters from the legal service directorate, and therefore the dockings were illegal.

One disgruntled teacher said she only received the letter informing her that her salary would be docked last week, even though the letter was dated November 30, 2007.

“If I had received it in time, I would have been able to plan for the deductions.”

A teacher from another local high school said the way the department has handled the deductions was “absolute chaos’.

“It appears that you are docked depending on what union you are with. Deductions should be calculated on an individual basis,” she said.

A principal in Northdale said he is losing two dedicated teachers, perhaps because of the docking issue.

“Morale is very low. It is hard being in this profession right now. If I lose teachers, where will I get more to replace them with if the department is treating us this way?”

He said the strike was 21 days long, but for eight of those, schools were officially closed by the department.

A headmistress of a local girls’ school said the issue now needs to be resolved immediately.

“The letters we received from the department did not correspond with our affidavits. The school is largely made up of educators affiliated with Naptosa. We all participated in the strike for three days. We have sent through all our documentation, copies of salaries, affidavits and yet some people’s salaries will be deducted for nine days, some 16 and 21. There is massive confusion.”

Piles of affidavits have allegedly been “lost” by the department, resulting in teachers having to resubmit them, and still having the incorrect amount of days docked from their pay.

Teachers at a Port Shepstone school said they recently sent through notification that they will be filing an injunction against the state, should the “illegal” dockings continue.

One teacher said the department has resolved to have the affidavits re-assessed.

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