Unions, GDE at odds over deductions

The Suid Afrikaanse Onderwyser-Unie (Saou) has served the Gauteng department of education (GDE) with notice to appear before the Labour Court next week Thursday over what it calls “illegal strike deductions”.

During the recent past public sector union strike, which included teachers, the department of basic education instructed provinces to effect the ‘no work, no pay’ principle.

But according to Saou’s spokesperson, Chris Klopper, between 300 and 350 of their members mainly from Tshwane South “rendered their services” during the strike and yet had their salaries deducted. Klopper said some teachers had “unlawful” deductions of close to R7 000.

He said three weeks before the end of November they became aware that the department was going to implement “erroneous strike deductions” and initiated extensive interactions with them to rectify the matter. “Every time we raised the issue they ‘repeatedly undertook to rectify it’ and after these meeting did not yield any positive results we decided to take the legal route,” said Klopper.

He said the principals of the affected schools have submitted evidence to prove the teachers signed the registers during the strike. Kloppers said his fear is the persal system (a computerised payment method used by government) will close on December 10 (the last day of schooling in 2010) and this may cause serious delays should the department reverse the deductions.

“This is a serious matter to us; because these deductions would cause serious financial hardship for our educators and their families on the eve of the December holidays,” said Klopper

GDE’s Charles Phahlane said it is regrettable that Saou has decided to approach the courts about the matter. He said the department has issued a circular during the strike urging teachers to sign attendance register both in the morning and afternoon.

If teachers dispute some deductions, said Phahlane, they “can fill in a form which has a table on the number of days of the strike, indicate the days they are disputing, attach proof, and forward the form to the district strike management committee. The committee will make a recommendation to the district director and if accepted deductions will be reversed immediately”.

We are committed to reversing deductions immediately in instances where there is proof or deductions were made erroneously, added Phahlane.

He said the department will defend the case.

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Thabo Mohlala
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