Teachers’ unions urge KZN members to stay away from work

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The unions called on employers to work closely with them so that they could devise a comprehensive plan together before the reopening of schools in the province.

Various teachers’ unions in the KwaZulu-Natal called their members to not return to work on Thursday, 28 May, in preparation for the reopening on schools.

The Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga announced last week that learners in Grades 7 and 12 will return to school on 1 June, which also prompted parents to express their concern about the decision, given the rapid increase in Covid-19 cases in the country.

The unions including National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa), South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), National Teachers Union (NATU), Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie (SAUO) and Professional Educators Union (PEU) expressed their disappointment with the management of the closure and the re-opening of schools in the province.

“The department of education in the KZN has failed to show leadership nor give guidance to their employees during this particularly trying time. Employees in the sector have been left to their own devices and received no support from the department.

“The complete failure to adequately consult with unions has resulted in unions in this province leading the department,” they said in a statement.

The unions said their representatives in the various districts confirmed unanimously that not all schools had received the agreed-upon personal protective equipment (PPE), including sanitisers and disinfecting materials.

“Schools have not had existing water tanks filled neither have all schools been cleaned nor had the grass cut. Reports indicate wash-hand basins have not been delivered either.

READ MORE: ‘Don’t stand in way’ of those who want to return to school – Motshekga.

“How are schools to be cleaned if they have no water?  Water is not only a basic human right but at this time of the Covid-19 pandemic it is indispensable. Is this Province ready to receive teachers safely on 28 May 2020?

“We advise our members in the province not to report to schools on 28 May 2020 because schools are not ready to receive them under the Covid-19 related protocols. We must be consistent, education in this province will commence when all schools are ready to receive learners and teachers safely,” the unions said.

The unions called on employers to work closely with them so that they could devise a comprehensive plan together.

“An exercise that will require two to three weeks of uninterrupted work. This critical time cannot afford deficit in leadership of all parties involved in education delivery and as unions, we shall continue to provide leadership for our members and the public,” they said.

Earlier this week, the president of the Educators Union of SA (Eusa), Scelo Bhengu said the union wanted to take legal action against the department of education over the decision of reopening schools.

Eusa’s lawyers met on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of taking such action.

Meanwhile, One SA Movement founder and former DA leader Mmusi Maimane proposed that schools remain closed for a further three months through an online petition.

(Compiled by Molefe Seeletsa)

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