25 November 2016
The South African Democratic Teachers Union has scored another victory when in four days since launching an urgent application in the High Court forced the Education Department to explain the steps it was taking to pay teachers owed salaries since their appointment.
The Department`s attempts to hide behind legal technicalities failed when SADTU refused to agree to a postponement of the urgent application forcing the Department to make a formal application to the court. It was in this formal application that the Department gave details of the payments that would be made to 10 of the 15 educators SADTU took the Department to court on their behalf. These educators will now be paid their salaries shortly after a lengthy wait.
The Department further undertook to investigate the remainder of the five educators.
This application also exposed the truth the Department has been hiding. That is has a backlog of appointments and payments of salaries and that the Department doesn`t appear to keep proper records. The affidavit of the Department confirms that the department battled to obtain its own records of the appointment of 5 of the 15 educators despite the fact that these educators were appointed as recently from August. More telling is the fact that it took 8 months and legal action by SADTU for the Department to give a reason why Mrs Plaatjies was not paid for 8 months
As usual both the MEC and the Acting Superintendent General shifted the responsibility to everybody else except themselves including blaming SGB`s and shifting the responsibility for payment to Provincial Treasury. This is consistent with what the MEC said in the portfolio committee meeting that he was not sure who was in charge of his department.
SADTU scored another victory as just as the Judge was about to deliver her judgement on the postponement application, the Department`s legal representative stood up to give an undertaking that the Department would not proceed with the termination of employment of three other educators whom the Department had accused of being wrongly appointed. This is despite having refused to give the same undertaking when they requested the postponed leading to the matter heading to court.
The matter will be fully argued on 15 December, 2016 in the Labour Court. These victories represent a turning point in SADTU`s resolve to serve its members and do everything in its power to protect the interests of members. The total victory SADTU seeks to achieve with this application is to ensure that every educator appointed by the Department is paid within 30 days of appointment or assumption of duty.
SADTU will be considering its options further regarding other outstanding payments to educators as it is now clear that the Department answers only when taken to court as has happened today.