Mokonyane gets tough on striking teachers
GAUTENG premier Nomvula Mokonyane read the riot act to teachers in Soweto this weekend and promised a zero tolerance approach to anyone who disrupts schooling.
Teachers aligned with the South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) disrupted classes throughout the township last week as a result of a dispute with the education department.
The premier told a meeting at the Soweto College of Education that she would work with education MEC Barbara Creecy, safety and security MEC Khabisi Mosunkutu, parents and school governing bodies to make learning a priority.
The meeting was a collective response to Sadtu's illegal strike that put paid to schooling and examinations in Soweto's schools last week.
The premier condemned Sadtu's actions, saying that the union had undermined President Jacob Zuma's call in his state of the nation speech to prioritise education.
Mokonyane condemned teachers for putting their rights first
"Teachers who do not want to teach should not disrupt classes. Their rights should not come before the rights of the pupils," said Mokonyane.
"Shame on those who claim to be Sadtu members yet undermine the values of the organisation."
Creecy, Mosunkutu and Mokonyane vowed not to tolerate any more interruptions to schooling.
"We will be working with safety MEC Mosunkutu and school governing bodies to ensure schooling returns to normal," said Creecy.
Mahlomola Kekana, chairman of the National Association of Parents in School Governance, said Sadtu's illegal strikes had become a trend.
"Every year around exam time teachers embark on a strike," he said.
"I am sure in November there will be another one."
Mokonyane said she would work with parents, teachers and pupils to ensure the trend ended.
Sadtu's national president Thobile Ntola said the union would heed Zuma and Mokonyane's call to prioritise education.
"I accept the parents' anger. The rights of teachers are inseparable to those of the pupils," he said.
Mokonyane vehemently condemned the incidents in which striking teachers had assaulted teachers who tried to work last week.
"Charges have been laid against educators and some have been arrested."
Teachers back at school on Wednesday after reneging on first accord
Teachers charged with assault face suspension and those who participated in the illegal strike would have their wages docked.
"When you embark on an illegal strike the 'no work, no pay' rule applies," said Mokonyane.
The premier said Sadtu should have communicated with the education department instead of taking to the streets.
Teachers will return to school on Wednesday, after Sadtu reneged on an initial agreement with Creecy to resume duties on Friday, she said.
Parents have vowed to work with the MEC and the premier to avoid disruptions and police will also patrol Soweto this week.