Anger mounts over pay docking

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

The KwaZulu-Natal department of education has allegedly made an administration error by paying teachers for the recovery plan while at the same time "forgetting" to dock salaries over the "no work, no pay".

Now teacher unions are threatening serious action if their salaries are docked next month.

Yesterday more than 500 teachers protested outside the department's offices at Truro House on Durban's Esplanade.

Police were called in and staff in the building were evacuated.

On Monday more than 500 union delegates and shop stewards marched to the Umlazi education district offices to demand that the department stop docking teachers' salaries.

The protests follow the department's announcement that it would dock teachers' salaries from March to June for the time they were on strike last year.

Teachers have vowed to down tools until the matter was resolved.

The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) and the National Teachers Union (Natu) in KwaZulu-Natal said they had warned the department previously that the blunder would cause chaos.

But the department had said it was too late to reverse the mistake as the process had already been activated.

Sadtu spokesman Sipho Nkosi said yesterday they had foreseen problems if the docking of salaries was not done simultaneously with payments for the recovery plan.

"We predicted that problems would arise, now there is fighting and teachers are angry. It is so unfortunate because we warned the department," said Nkosi.

He said teachers stood to lose about R4000 from their salaries for two months in a row.

"Teachers are paid peanuts. How are they supposed to survive with such a large amount being deducted from their salaries?" he asked.

Asked why their members accepted and used the recovery plan payment without the simultaneous deductions of the "no work, no pay", Nkosi said the department was paying what it owed the teachers anyway.

Natu spokesman Allen Thompson said their members were not experiencing major problems in other provinces because there was proper consultation between the department and unions.

He said problems in KwaZulu-Natal were deliberately caused by the provincial department.

"We are ready to declare a dispute with the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) and we are even prepared to take them to the highest court should they continue to dock teachers' salaries without the proof that those teachers were on strike," he said.

Henry Hendricks of the National Allied Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) said they only experienced problems in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape.

He said they were concerned about the department's "one-size fits-all" approach, where salaries were being docked including for those who were not part of the strike.

The department was unavailable for comment.