Sadtu urges youth to stay put

Sibongile Mashaba and Sapa

Sibongile Mashaba and Sapa

The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) has called on school children to stay home until the public sector strike is over.

The government stuck to its guns yesterday in the current pay dispute with public servants, saying their current salary demands were not realistic.

"The offer on the table has to be sustainable. We cannot have a situation where the [state's] wage bill is 20percent of gross domestic profit [GDP]. That is unsustainable," Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi told reporters at parliament.

The government's current wage bill was 8,2percent of GDP before the 2007-08 adjustments still to be introduced.

Public service unions' demand for a 12percent raise would take the bill to 20percent of GDP, the minister said.

Fraser-Moleketi also warned striking workers against acts of intimidation or harassment.

Sadtu's regional deputy secretary, Ronald Nyathi, yesterday told Sowetan that allowing children to go to school during the strike would not be safe for them.

"There is no safety at schools when teachers are not around and we advise parents to keep their children away from schools until the strike is over," said Nyathi.

He said thieves could use the opportunity to vandalise schools and intimidate anyone on the premises if there was no supervision.

"The pressure exerted by parents, pupils, the media and the community on the government will put an end to the strike.

"Our members want to go back to school and continue teaching. It is up to the government to decide whether it wants that."

Also, he said a mass meeting held yesterday at Orlando Communal hall in Soweto between its members and Sadtu representatives, had proved that the teachers were still dedicated to the strike.

"Our members have vowed once again that they are not turning back. They will not go back to work until their demands are met," said Nyathi.

Duncan Hindle, the Director-general of Education, said that the department had not received a report that children should not go to school.

"If this is true we will act upon it," said Hindle.

Meanwhile, Western Cape education MEC Cameron Dugmore has declared the disruption of school examinations and intimidation unacceptable.

Dugmore said that he had received reports yesterday that the Blue Downs Branch of Sadtu had issued a pamphlet saying that no exams should take place at any school.