The KwaZulu-Natal education department will follow through on its warning to dismiss 7000 striking administrative workers and cleaners, education MEC Ina Cronje warned yesterday.
The department said a large number of administrative workers went on strike last week at key offices in Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
The South African Democratic Teachers Union maintains that the department employs about 11000 administrative workers and several thousand are on strike in several areas of the region, including Pietermaritzburg, Durban, Empangeni and Port Shepstone.
The union has a list of more than 10 grievances, ranging from unpaid payments to the reimbursement of bonuses and other staff-related issues.
Cronje yesterday addressed striking workers in Pietermaritzburg and appealed to them to return to work or face instant dismissal.
She warned employees "not to be misled by those who told them that the strike is protected".
"It is not protected. Therefore our ultimatum directed at them is to return to work. Failure to comply with this directive will result in their summary dismissal without any further warnings.
"We also call on the police to enforce the court order as directed by the court."
But the union's provincial leader, Sipho "KK" Nkosi, was adamant that the strike would continue and has instructed his members to go for a "blackout".
"We will not be intimidated by apartheid-style tactics.
"We don't understand why the strike is illegal. We served notice to go on strike and before that called for three meetings [with the education department]."