The first week of the school year is set to be rocky in the Eastern Cape: the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union and the provincial education department are already at war.
Schools in the country’s worst-performing province – its 2012 matrics registered the lowest pass rate – reopen on Wednesday.
But Sadtu and the province’s education department are locking horns about teacher redeployment, and neither side seems willing to compromise.
The department wants excess teachers to be redeployed to schools which have too few teachers.
Sadtu, though, insists there are no schools which have too many teachers. The union wants more teachers employed across the board and has called for 4 000 temporary teachers who were fired during 2010 and 2011 to be reinstated.
Sadtu’s provincial secretary Mncekeleli Ndongeni said the union’s Eastern Cape executive had decided during a meeting in Bhisho this week to oppose and reject any redeployment efforts.
“We are not accepting redeployment of teachers as proposed by the government… we will use our power as a trade union to protect the rights of our members, starting with protests on January 18 with lunch hour demonstrations,” Ndongeni said.
But Premier Noxolo Kiviet is talking tough in the faces of the union’s threats.
During a gala dinner to honour the Eastern Cape’s top performing pupils, Kiviet warned that redeployment was a non-negotiable issue.
“Teachers must move to where they are needed. We can’t have a situation with teachers packed where they are not needed – what mentality is that?
“Are you really committed to building this province?” she challenged Sadtu.
“We don’t have to fight about this, but if we are pushed we will fight,” Kiviet said.
Sadtu’s ready for that fight. Ndongeni told City Press: “It’s unfortunate that the premier wants to take the route of pushing, because we will have to respond in kind.”