Pupils missed valuable learning time yesterday in KwaZulu-Natal while the hopes of hordes of their teachers eagerly awaiting the Durban labour court ruling on their salary docking, were dashed.
The setback yesterday was caused by the failure of the provincial education to reply on time to court papers challenging deductions of the salaries of teachers.
The case was taken to court by the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), representing thousands of teachers in the region.
Now, angry union leaders and members have called for the province's education MEC and her head of department to resign from their posts.
The union went to court after education authorities in the province made deductions from March salaries.
The department deducted the money from salaries of teachers who went on strike during last year's public servants' strike.
The union maintains the deductions began from March 15, despite their members' protests to the department offices on several occasions.
It said the court intervention was to force the department to refund the seven days of pay they had deducted.
Yesterday, teachers gathered at the stadium from about 10am, with many dressed in black saying it "symbolised mourning".
They sang liberation songs and shouted slogans calling for MEC Ina Cronje and the head of the education department, Cassius Lubisi, to "get out of their positions".
They said they were disappointed when they were told that the matter could not go to court and has been scheduled to be heard in about two weeks' time.
Sadtu spokesman Sipho Nkosi said the department has promised to reply to court papers by next week Wednesday. He said the case would be heard on April 30.
"Teachers will continue with protests until we are refunded," he said.