National 11.9.2016 11:34 am

Teachers’ union wants free varsity education and end of Gems

Photo: Supplied

Photo: Supplied

Natu says it’s not fair that university lecturers don’t pay for their kids, and it is concerned that government’s medical aid scheme is falling apart.

The National Teachers’ Union (Natu) has called for free education for teachers’ children and the Government Employees’ Medical Scheme (Gems) to be dissolved.

Public servants, teachers in particular, were treated unfairly by government, Natu deputy president and spokesman Allen Thompson said in a statement on Sunday.

Questions had been asked why teachers resigned in such huge numbers, he said.

“They resign because they can’t take their kids to varsity, education is expensive. They cash their pension in order to pay for education because they don’t have one child, but two or three. There is a call from all corners of society to provide free education and we know public servants’ children won’t qualify because they are deemed to be earning enough. This is not the case and we don’t want to be fitted under [the] ‘missing middle’ category in the National Students’ Financial Aid Scheme, but we want free tertiary education.”

He called for “equalisation of education because university lecturers earn a lot” and their children were exempted from paying fees in universities.

“Why can’t we have the same system, because we are employed by the same government? Why are university lecturers exempted for paying fees but they earn enough. In fact, they earn more than teachers and their kids study for free?”

Thompson said, even in basic education, teachers were not exempted from paying fees in schools.

He also called on government to dissolve Gems.

“Gems is collapsing; its solvency rate now is 9.6 percent. [The] implications of this are that if you went to the doctor in March, chances are that your savings have been depleted. Gems is failing to pay workers. They are also implementing waiting periods for members who have resigned from the scheme and have rejoined it. From next month it would be [a] three-month waiting period and 12 months for dependants,” said Thompson.

Natu had launched a court case and a dispute in the labour court because of the inefficiency of Gems.

“We want all those who have concerns about the scheme to send us their details so that we take it with [us] to court. We want all members of Gems to be allowed to cancel with the scheme and not lose benefits,” he said.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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