Education department reads the riot act as 'militant' teachers face the chop

The department of basic education says teachers and principals who refuse to report for work can be charged with serious misconduct which could result in them being fired.
The department of basic education says teachers and principals who refuse to report for work can be charged with serious misconduct which could result in them being fired.
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As the country waits with bated breath for the government's announcement on the status of schools on Thursday, the department of basic education has read the riot act to teachers who refuse to report for duty.

In a circular dated July 20, the department's director-general, Mathanzima Mweli, warned educators and principals who refuse to report for work that they could be charged with serious misconduct which could result in them being fired.

Mweli informed the superintendent generals of the provincial education departments that since the phasing in of grade R, 6 and 11 pupils, there were teachers and principals who had refused to come to school but instead “choose to instigate learners, parents and community members to disrupt schools”.

“The DBE [department of basic education] is extremely concerned about some teachers, principals and non-teaching staff who are using different platforms to attack the department for the reopening of schools.

“The Council of Education Ministers (CEM) has resolved to take legal action against all individuals and groups that continue to disrupt schooling.”

He informed the provinces that disciplinary measures should be instituted against those teachers who refused to return to work after their applications for comorbidity leave were turned down.

In these instances teachers would be instructed in writing to report for duty and they would not be paid for the days they were absent. He said that if a teacher still refused to report for duty, he or she should be charged with misconduct which could lead to dismissal.

“The formal instruction should be used as aggravation to request the presiding officer for a harsher sanction that includes dismissal.”

Mweli said that in cases of protected or unprotected strikes, the striking educator should immediately be instructed in writing to return to work “with the proviso that they are subjecting themselves to be charged with misconduct”.

“Their names and period of the strike should be sent to people management practices for the implementation of no work, no pay.”

He said that these educators should be charged progressively in terms of the Employment of Educators Act and be provided with a final written warning.

“Please note that this process can be finalised within 36 hours or less by either the manager of the school or whomever the function has been delegated to,” the circular stated.

Ben Machipi, general secretary of the Professional Educators' Union (PEU), urged members thinking of disrupting schools “to desist from such unprofessional behaviour”.

“While we concede that militancy is one of the tactics employed by unions to push their demands, that has to be done within the confines of existing statutes governing employer- employee relationships.”

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