break for Teachers

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

The KwaZulu-Natal education department and South African Democratic Teachers Union have struck a deal that extends the period of the "no work, no pay" deductions from last year's teachers' strike.

Instead of repaying the department in instalments ranging from R1400 over three months, the thousands of affected teachers will now be allowed to pay back the money over six months.

In addition the agreement between the government and teachers sees teachers scoring a payout of 10 days for the 21 days of teaching in the recovery programme to make up for lost teaching time.

This, according to the union, works out at about R300million.

In a statement issued yesterday education MEC Ina Cronje said: "The deduction period will now be stretched over six months. When we made the decision, we took the interest of our educators to heart."

The agreement came after a series of protests, including one held at Curries Fountain Stadium a few days before schools closed this term.

The department announced that it would dock salaries for that day because teachers abandoned classes to attend the rally.

Cronje said the salary-docking extension would reduce the repayment instalments and go a long way to reducing the financial burden faced by teachers during the deduction period.

Sadtu provincial spokesman Sipho Nkosi said the offer would help improve teachers' morale.

Nkosi said: "This is the best deal in the market and we do not anticipate anyone going against the deal we have with the employer.

"All teachers should be pleased that at last we have reached a viable solution."

The department's agreement to pay teachers for the recovery plan means that teachers will be paid for 30 half days, which is well above the 21 days of teaching they had to put in.

Nkosi said some teachers might already have been paid for the 21 days of the recovery plan in November 2007 and would be paid for 10 more days beginning from July.

"The extension in the repayment period would help teachers survive financially," he said.

Nkosi urged teachers to consult Sadtu if they experienced any problems with payments or deductions.

All stakeholders in the province, including parents, welcomed the new deal.

KwaZulu-Natal's Parents Association spokesman Fayed Rajack said: "We hope that both parties are acting in good faith and that all matters will now be resolved in the best interests of our children."