Private school teachers put chalks down over salaries

Summat College in the Johannesburg CBD where teachers are accusing the school management of not paying their salaries. / SANDILE NDLOVU
Summat College in the Johannesburg CBD where teachers are accusing the school management of not paying their salaries. / SANDILE NDLOVU

Pupils at a private school in Johannesburg have been left in the lurch after teachers embarked on a strike over unpaid salaries.

The teachers at Summat College in the Johannesburg CBD who spoke to Sowetan confirmed that they had not been paid for the month of July.

They stopped working on Thursday and there were still no classes yesterday.

The teachers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they had to hustle transport money to be able to go to work.

"We can't teach on empty stomachs; how will we expect the pupils to concentrate in class if we are failing to do that. Our situation is very sad as nothing has been communicated to us. I have not even paid my rent for this month and my landlord is tired of hearing stories from me," said one of the teachers.

The college caters for pupils from grades R to 12. It also offers National Senior Certificate (NCS) matric rewrites and old syllabus matric rewrites.

Another teacher said he had incurred penalties at his bank due to debit orders bouncing back because there was no money in his account.

"We have families to take care of but we can't even afford to buy bread. Instead, when you get to school to complain about certain issues, we get humiliated in front of pupils," the teacher said.

Frustrated grade 12 pupils said they were worried because they were only left with a week to sit for their September examinations.

"We are worried about our future because it seems as if the school does not care about us. There has been no teaching at school since Thursday and we are starting with our exams on the 15th of August.

"The school is also supposed to offer classes from grades R to 12 but we don't have grades 4, 5, 6 and 7. The school should also hire qualified teachers," the pupil said.

The principal of the school, who refused to introduce herself, demanded to know who gave Sowetan the story.

She showed Sowetan what looked like a contract, confirming that teachers are being paid R5000 between the 30th and 7th day of every month.

"If you fail to reveal your sources there is no need for me to introduce myself. I don't see the reason why you have to go ahead with the story as I have shown you the contract we have with the teachers. Today is still the third day of the month and that does not mean that they won't be paid for this month," she said on Friday.

One of the men who was with the principal threatened to sue Sowetan should the story be published. Another man said the teachers will not be paid for doing nothing.

"We have been paying them from January to June and they come running to you to complain about one month.

"If your workplace does not pay you for one month would you run to the papers? Anyway, write anything you want because we can see you are siding with the teachers."

Department of basic education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said they were unable to comment about private schools. Confidence Dikgole, director of policy and government at the National Association of Independent Schools, said she could not comment about the school because it did not belong to the association.

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