Teacher loses R400,000 back pay after sick-note bungle at arbitrator's office

Dave Chambers Cape Town bureau chief
A Limpopo teacher who won a ruling that she was owed R400,000 backpay has had the award withdrawn.
A Limpopo teacher who won a ruling that she was owed R400,000 backpay has had the award withdrawn.
Image: 123RF/SAMORN TARAPAN

A teacher who was awarded more than R400,000 after complaining she had been underpaid for three years has had the award withdrawn.

Ntsanana Kekana, a teacher in Zebediela, Limpopo, won the award at an Education Labour Relations Council hearing at which the provincial education department was not represented.

The department subsequently complained it had informed the council that its representative was sick and unable to attend, arguing that the hearing should have been postponed.

Commissioner Jeffrey Nkuna rescinded his finding. He said the department submitted a medical certificate to the council but it was not passed on to him before he allowed the hearing to proceed.

“The employer has on a balance of probabilities established that it has a good cause to be granted the rescission,” he said.

At the May hearing, Kekana told Nkuna she had been underpaid since joining Kgalaka Secondary in 2008 on Relative Education Qualification Value (REQV) 13, the minimum entry level for teachers with only matric and a teaching diploma.

Kekana said she should have been on REQV 14, which attracted an annual salary R32,000 higher, because she also had an Adult Basic Education and Training (Abet) certificate.

She told Nkuna she had tried to sort out the problem with the education department to no avail. At one point, her salary was increased but she was later told to repay the extra amount.

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