The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) to abandon all illegal strike action in the Eastern Cape for the sake of learners.
“We call on the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, and the provincial Superintendent-General to deal decisively with any attempts to cause chaos and disruption in schools,” said DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Donald Smiles.
“It is disappointing that President Jacob Zuma has failed to show leadership by condemning the actions of union leaders, despite having had the platform to speak to the entire province this weekend in East London,” he said.
Smiles said the DA commended all teachers and principals, including many who belong to SADTU, who had chosen to maintain an excellent work ethic during this time, despite heavy pressure from militant union bosses.
“We respect the right of teachers to strike when it is the only form of appropriate action available to them. Illegal strike action, however, must be met by the full consequences that can be meted out in terms of the law,” he said.
Smiles said while there were legitimate concerns about the dysfunction of the provincial department, this could not continuously be met by irresponsible unionism. The outcome was always a zero-sum game for learners.
“SADTU needs to respect the right of the individual child to a fair chance at receiving an education. Sabotaging learners in poor schools this early on in the year is a cruel and unnecessary act.”
“The fact is that everyone in the education sector knew that teacher reassignments would need to take place. Union bosses should have engaged on this matter far sooner before dragging innocent learners into this fight with them,” he said.
Smiles also commended other unions who were responsible enough to enter into negotiations with the Department on teacher reassignments. Satisfactory outcomes were achieved by doing this.
“SADTU has more appropriate options it can use to settle any disputes apart from an illegal strike. Avenues such as going to court, entering into negotiations and appealing to the Minister of Basic Education should be pursued in cases with genuine merit for discontent.”
“As long as irresponsible unionism that has no regard for the education of a child is tolerated, the Apartheid legacy of unequal education will never be addressed,” he said.