Sadtu calls for teachers across the country not to return to work

25 May 2020 - 08:47
By Iavan Pijoos
The union said many schools across the country had not been disinfected and did not have sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment.
Image: paylessimages / 123RF Stock Photo The union said many schools across the country had not been disinfected and did not have sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment.

Provinces across the country are not ready to reopen schools, and therefore no teacher should return to work this week, the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) said on Monday.

This after basic education minister Angie Motshekga announced last week that teachers would return to school on May 25 to prepare for the return of grades 7 and 12 pupils on June 1.

The union said assessments by their provincial departments indicated the country was not ready to open schools for teachers.

“We care about the lives of the teachers, children and support staff in schools. To us 'one death is one too many'. We therefore cannot afford to be reckless at this stage of Covid-19,” said Sadtu in the Eastern Cape.

Sadtu in North West said they had received updates from six regions in the province.

The report indicated that by May 20, out of 1,621 schools in the province, 1,410 had not been cleaned and disinfected.

Some teachers had also not received permits to travel within and across the province.

Provincial secretary George Themba said the personal protective equipment (PPE) supplied was not enough for employees expected to return to work on Monday.

He said screeners had not been appointed, some schools did not have running water and no clear guidelines were provided to deal with comorbidities.

“We resolved to advise our members not to report for duty on May 25 until the department has addressed all the issues that are pending, and has guaranteed the safety of our members by attending to all Covid-19 precautionary measures.”

Sadtu in the Western Cape claimed the basic education department had taken shortcuts with regard to cleaning of schools, scanning of teachers and the provision of PPEs.

Provincial secretary Jonavon Rustin said the department had made no attempts to ensure schools and offices were compliant.  

Rustin said the union lodged a complaint against the education department with the labour department with regard to “non-compliance”.

Union provincial secretary in KwaZulu-Natal, Nomarashiya Caluza, said the spread of the virus and the lives of teachers were at risk in the province.

Caluza said in many district offices and circuit offices there was no-one checking temperatures of people visiting the offices, including employees.

“There are no registers and sanitisers. We read in the news that our department is committed to deal with people who flout Covid-19 measures.

“Sadtu is aware that workers are made to work for long hours as they offload deliveries from trucks, and are loading in their own cars to deliver to schools.

“There is no clear plan about how the department is assisting special schools. As we know, they are at limbo as many guidelines put out by the department are irrelevant to their situation,” Caluza said.

KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala announced in Durban on Sunday that 90,057 teachers and support staff in the province who were expected to report back to school on Monday, but would now only return on Thursday.

Sadtu in Limpopo said the province was also not ready to reopen schools this week. It said this time must instead be used by union structures to gather “evidence regarding the state of readiness by the department”.

Provincial secretary Tjebane Sowell said while educators should not return, principals of schools must remain on standby to collect all available provisions and ensure systems are put in place.