Teachers on the march: South African Democratic Teachers Union members come up against a police cordon at the Union Buildings in Pretoria in this file picture. The ANC has previously called for teaching to be declared an essential service. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO
Teachers on the march: South African Democratic Teachers Union members come up against a police cordon at the Union Buildings in Pretoria in this file picture. The ANC has previously called for teaching to be declared an essential service. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO

Teachers’ unions have slated a DA proposal for a limits to be placed on the right to strike in the education sector.

In its essential service in education discussion document, the DA calls for a limitation on the right of principals to stop work. Industrial action by teachers’ unions has become commonplace in schools, disrupting the schooling system.

The ANC has previously called for teaching to be declared an essential service.

"South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) members often enter schools illegally and harass pupils during their protests when there are no principals present and this needs to be put to an end," said DA MP and basic education spokesman Ian Ollis. "It is vital that principals and support staff at schools are declared an essential service as this will result in children being protected from the adverse effects of protest action."

While the DA supported the right of individuals to protest, it must not be at the expense of the safety, health and other rights of children, Ollis said.

"The International Labour Organisation has determined that it is reasonable to limit the right of certain education sector employees to strike, and the DA agrees that this limitation is needed, given that our children are forced to suffer as a result of strike action," Ollis said.

Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said the DA’s proposal was a political gimmick. "Principals are workers in terms of the Labour Relations Act and qualify for all the rights that other workers qualify for, including the right to strike."

Basil Manuel, the president of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA, echoed Maluleke’s views, saying "teaching and the position of principals cannot be declared an essential service".

phakathib@businesslive.co.za

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