Durban - The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) in KwaZulu-Natal has warned of a possible shortage of 4000 teachers, following the disclosure by Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu that provincial treasury has told the department to cut staff numbers.
Mshengu stated that the plan called for the department to cut over 6000 staff, including more than 2000 teachers.
Cosatu further warned that such a move would have "catastrophic" socio-economic consequences for the province, particularly among impoverished communities.
It said there was already a desperate need for the department to fill over 2000 posts that were vacant.
The department had attributed the possible retrenchments to the recent R6.3 billion budget cuts.
Cosatu said this was worrying, coming at a time when the country was facing unprecedented levels of unemployment.
“The national lekgotla held just last weekend concerned itself about the rising figure of unemployment; however, we are finding that what is happening, in reality, proved to be contrary,” said Cosatu provincial secretary Edwin Mkhize.
He said youth unemployment was at about 63%, many of whom were graduates.
Mkhiza said the union was aware that there were many youngsters who had obtained qualifications, but had not been able to find jobs.
More and more people were living in despair due to the fact that the education they had received did not bring them the better future they were promised, he said.
“What is also devastating is how this would adversely impact teaching and learning, particularly in public and township schools. This further perpetuates the socio-spatial development of the poor child and contributes to the high inequality in South Africa,” he said.
Mkhize said the pronouncement by Mshengu was a sign that government was not seeing to the needs of its workers.
Cosatu called upon all workers to unite against the "blatant disregard" of the plight of teachers.
“We must stand united to protect and advance the employment of our educators, who are lingering at home and whose majority is the youth.
"Furthermore, the union calls upon the national government to make urgent interventions to protect jobs, and ensure quality teaching and learning for equal development of our children."