Teachers union says that the Northern Cape Department of Education has not paid certain workers for up to three months.
COSATU and the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) in the Northern Cape have “dismissed with contempt” the explanation provided by the provincial Department of Education for the non-payment of temporary teachers, cleaners and screeners across the Province.
Sadtu provincial secretary Palesa Nqumashe said that the Department of Education had not paid workers for up to three months.
“We are in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, where we have to observe Covid-19 protocols in order to preserve lives, livelihoods and make learning institutions a safe environment for teaching and learning. The schools will be expected to produce results at the end of the year, where the government does not care about the conditions of service of these employees and, by extension, the pupils,” said Nqumashe.
Nqumashe added that the moratorium on the filling of posts and the transfer of appointment functions from the education sector to Treasury are disrupting the smooth running of schools.
“This has the potential to negatively affect the performance of the Province, which is currently ranked last in the country.”
Cosatu provincial secretary Orapeleng Moraladi found it “very disturbing” that workers were allegedly being ill-treated.
“The department, which falls under the ANC-led government, is treating workers in an inhumane manner. We have on several occasions called on the government to lift the moratorium on appointment of workers, particularly in the health and education sectors. There is no political will to resolve this matter … The government has treated us with arrogance and failed to heed the call to take the issues of education and health seriously,” said Moraladi.
He rejected the explanation given by the HOD of the Education Department for the non-payment, “with contempt”.
“The HOD blames budget cuts and the Covid-19 pandemic as the reasons for non-payment. It is a huge shame and clear sign of lack of management and leadership in our government. How would workers be employed and allowed to render their services while the department seemingly does not have a budget to pay them for three months?”
Moraladi added that the explanation provided by the department revealed the inability of government departments to function properly.
“It exposes the government’s lack of organisational acumen, synergy and cohesion. It shows that these departments operate as stand-alone entities without any knowledge and understanding of proper management systems.
“We call on the premier to investigate this and hold everyone accountable for the suffering that the poor workers have to endure. Workers must be paid on time.”
The spokesperson for the Northern Cape Department of Education, Geoffrey van der Merwe, on Thursday related that they were equally concerned about the current reality facing a number of substitute and temporary educators, as well as screeners and cleaners in the system.
“We wish to remind our stakeholders that we are still severely challenged by the effects of Covid-19 on the education sector. The services of cleaners and screeners are needed on a critical basis for a longer duration than anticipated. We have also not been able to accurately predict the additional pressures faced by schools with regards to the appointment of temporary and substitute teachers,” said Van der Merwe.
“Many schools were affected by loss of educators through attrition, resignations and 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.”
He explained that the presidential youth employment initiative, which was created to employ educator assistants and general assistants to reduce pressure on schools in terms of Covid-19 compliance, had come to an end earlier this year.
“A deliberate decision was taken by the department to extend the contracts of the cleaners and screeners, as we still find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic. Another matter that impacted enormously on the department was the number of educators that needed to be substituted or replaced. In certain cases temporary educators needed to be provided. All of these factors add additional pressure, requiring careful balancing of all urgent and competing needs.”
Van der Merwe stated that the department had to reprioritise the budget in order to respond to these challenges.
“We have engaged with Provincial Treasury on this matter and the appointment function is now open for the department to continue with the appointments and payments of the affected staff. The department is putting shoulder to wheel to finalise this matter urgently.
“We apologise for the inconvenience caused to affected educators, screeners and cleaners and wish to give assurance that no effort is being spared to resolve this matter as soon as humanly possible.”