The unions have indicated that they will not support any decision taken on Monday by the council of ministers at their meeting to discuss the reopening of schools
The meeting, hosted by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, which includes education MECs from all nine provinces, is meant to map a way forward for the rest of the school year, which has been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
But unions have already expressed concern over the fact that their input has been ignored.
The first to lash out at the department was the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu).
Its general secretary, Mugwena Maluleke, said the consultation Motshekga had with them was merely a formality.
“We were consulted, but the department comes to consult for formality, not alternative ideas.
The provincial departments are doing their own thing, and nothing we discuss at national level makes any difference.
“For the reopening of schools, the departments must fully comply with regulations and occupational health and safety. None of the provinces are ready,” Maluleke warned.
He further expressed dismay at all the plans the minister and the MECs were making, saying they appeared unconcerned about the safety of learners and teachers.
“What we have observed is that the employer is worried about the school calendar, and not the safety and lives of the workers,” he said.
He added that the workers are commodities and in abundance, and if one dies, another resource is expanded.
“We are in an era where the work of workers (is a priority) but not (their) health or lives,” he said.
Maluleke said they have called on the national department to rein in the provinces, but that won’t happen because the provinces are in competition and the workers are expendable commodities.