Durban - UNPAID teachers at a private school in Morningside, Durban, were on Tuesday told to leave by the owner after they had staged a sit-in on Monday refusing to teach until they were paid.
The teachers, who had not been paid since January, were allegedly told the school management was awaiting a sponsorship and that parents were not paying school fees.
Some of the teachers, who were members of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa), had staged a sit-in in the staff room and had hoped to do the same on Monday, but were instead dismissed.
Ishara Dhanook, the executive officer of Naptosa FET and special schools department, said the union was preparing to take the school to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
According to Naptosa, the school employed 21 people, enrolled 80 pupils and charged school fees of up to R5000 a month per pupil.
Dhanook said the teachers had approached the union on April 30 and had met school management, who had committed to pay the teachers as soon as possible.
The Daily News is in possession of email correspondence between Naptosa and the school operations director Regan Stander, who had promised to pay the Naptosa teachers.
However, no payments were made.
Dhanook said the union’s investigation had uncovered that the school had previously traded under a different name, Academy of Learning and Learnership.
This year, the school took on the new name, New Life Academy, and was now managed by Stander, who had apparently taken over from his father last year.
“They now say that last year’s salary should be claimed from the old employer, Stander sr.
“This is exploitation of staff. One staff member had not been paid since June last year.
“It is also a violation of Freedom of Association. Staff were victimised because they have joined the union,” she said.
The teachers apparently had continued teaching all this time because they were dedicated and they believed they would be paid.
One of the teachers, who had not been paid since last year, said life was extremely difficult.
“I rely on my husband for everything, and yet I have to be at work every day. I have to pay for transport to work and come pay day, we do not get paid.
“I have asked my husband to bear with me and I promised him the matter was being sorted out. We get the same story every month,” she said.
She had been with the school for more than 10 years and complained the salary delays were not a new issue.
Another teacher, who joined the school in January, said his hopes of a better life were dashed.
“I hoped this job would help me take care of my mother who struggled to put me through university. I am a qualified teacher. I do not deserve this,” he said.
Department of Education spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa said the teachers were right to approach their unions to report their employer.
“Unfortunately, parents choose to send their children to private schools for reasons known to them. We are not as involved with private schools as with public schools,” he said.
Stander would not comment until he had consulted his lawyer.