The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union in the Western Cape (SADTU Western Cape) is greatly perturbed by the ongoing violent Taxi Strike in the province where workers are intimidated, and the reluctance of the Western Cape Education Department to take a decisive step to close the schools in the affected areas for the safety of both teachers and learners. While we understand the cry for the reversal of the draconian laws against the Taxi industry by the City of Cape Town, these must not impact on schooling for the poor working-class learners who still experience learning losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ensuing strike once more shows the great divide between the previously advantaged white schools and the poor working-class schools, where the teachers and learners from townships must bear the brunt of the strike.
The union cannot understand how some circuit managers are putting pressure on principals to ensure that teachers and education workers report to school when conditions are unsafe, and workers fear to leave their homes. We would like to remind the employer that education workers are not on strike and schools must not be used in the political power play between the Taxi bosses and Western Cape-led DA Government.
We therefore call upon the Head of Department to strongly reprimand Directors, Circuit Managers, and other officials to refrain from harassing principals and teachers through intimidation by forcing them to go to school when conditions are unsafe. The same officials are giving the directives from the safe cocoons of their offices and are not physically present in the areas where schools are situated but rely only on the media to inform them about the situation on the ground.
While we are cognisant of hunger experienced by many learners at their homes, and the need to feed them at schools, the safety of the teachers, support staff and food handlers must remain a priority. The lives of all education personnel are not for sale to score political points between the two parties that are in conflict.
We call upon the Taxi Industry to respect the right to education by declaring schools and all government public institutions and social services immune to the ongoing strike action. This is in line with the SADTU “I am a School Fan” campaign, which is meant to ensure that schools are
safe havens for both learners and education workers. Taxi drivers and owners should play an active role in ensuring that schools are safe spaces for the children of their clients, which is the community.
We call upon WCED to collaborate with education unions in reaching conclusions on schooling during these turbulent times.
We also note the criminal element is taking advantage of the genuine cry by the Taxi Industry. We therefore call upon our communities to report their barbaric actions which aim to damage existing community infrastructure.
We call upon the City of Cape Town as well as all municipalities to deploy law enforcement in all areas that are hot spots for violence and crime irrespective of the colour and poor social status of the areas where the violence is experienced.
Teachers expect a speedy resolution to the impasse so that normal schooling can take place.
ISSUED BY: SADTU Western Cape Provincial Secretariat