Northern Cape teachers assistants and cleaners not paid for 3 months

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Northern Cape teachers assistants and cleaners have not been paid.
Northern Cape teachers assistants and cleaners have not been paid.
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  • SADTU said teachers and general assistants in the Northern Cape have not been paid for almost three months. 
  • It added the government did not care about teachers and general workers' conditions of service, while it expected schools to produce good results.
  • The provincial education department said National Treasury had given it the green light to pay affected workers.

The Northern Cape Department of Education says it is working on resolving the issue of teacher assistants and general workers not being paid for three months.

According to the SA Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), substitute and temporary teachers as well as screeners and cleaners were the ones most affected.

The department said reasons for the delays were due to pressures the sector was experiencing amid the Covid-19 pandemic. 

It added the need for cleaners and screeners at schools remained critical long after their initial period of employment, saying this resulted in it having to reprioritise its budget.

READ | Impact of teacher assistants leads to DBE seeking contract extension

The Presidential Youth Employment Initiative that catered for the assistants ended earlier this year and the department took a decision to take over and pay them from its budget. 

The workers were deployed to schools to ensure Covid-19 safety protocols were followed.

Northern Cape education department spokesperson Geoffrey van der Merwe said another matter which impacted the department was the number of teachers who needed to be substituted or replaced, and in other cases, where temporary teachers were needed.

"All of these factors add additional pressure and require careful balancing of all urgent and competing needs."

Van der Merwe added: 

We have also not been able to accurately predict the additional pressures to be endured by our schools with regards to appointment of temporary and substitute teachers as all schools have been affected by loss of educators through attrition, resignations, Illness as well as early retirements. The education sector, like all others, had to face severe budget cuts in view of the country's economic reality.

SADTU's provincial secretary, Palesa Nqumashe, said the government's stance of declaring a moratorium on filling posts and taking appointment functions from the department to National Treasury had disrupted the smooth running of schools.

"The action has the potential to negatively affect the performance of the province that is currently ranked last. This is a serious indictment on the part of the employer and we are concerned," Nqumashe added, calling on the department to expedite the payments to workers.

ALSO READ | Teacher assistants are not happy about DBE non-payment

Van der Merwe said the department had engaged the provincial treasury on the matter and it had released funds for it to fill posts and pay outstanding salaries.

He added the affected staff members would be paid soon.

"The department is putting its shoulder to the wheel to finalise this matter urgently. We apologise for the inconvenience this has caused to affected educators, screeners and cleaners.

"We wish to give assurance that no effort is spared to resolve this matter as soon as humanly possible," said Van der Merwe.

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