The Professional Educators’ Union (PEU) has noted with concern on media reports that some school principals display a domineering attitude , coupled with the audacity to recall teachers who are staying at home due to underlying conditions, to report back to work, with or without comorbidities, as they simply collect their salaries doing nothing, whilst schools are contending to work with severely reduced staff complements, with additional classes that have inevitably multiplied, to comply with social distancing.
The General Secretary speaks
We must be upfront in stating our displeasure as PEU and roundly condemn, with no equivocation, such unprofessional behaviour, and bossy attitudes by some of our school principals towards our teachers. They must also be reminded that at the end of the day, they are workers, who must conform to basic conditions of service affecting the very same affected teachers.
PEU members in their branded face masks
Inasmuch as we bear with majority of schools that grapple with high enrolments and severe shortage of staff complements and infrastructure, to can comply with safety measures against the pandemic, we will not allow a situation wherein teachers are used as sacrificial lambs and be caused to risk their precious lives, in the name of crisis. The attitude displayed by such principals does not only border on pomposity but on flagrant disregard of provisions of the ELRC Collection Agreement 1 of 2020, on concession process to be followed for teachers with underlying conditions, which is a thought process of both employer and organised labour. We therefore urge our school principals to respect the dictates of the agreement and refrain from venting their managerial frustrations on our teachers. PEU makes a clarion call to all affected teachers, regardless of the Union affiliation, to refuse to be bulldozed and cowed into capitulation by their managers and report such unbecoming tendencies to nearest PEU structure for immediate recourse. PEU reiterates, as we did before, on calling our members with comorbidities to stay away from schools, after they shall have complied with provisions of the collective agreement. That they have no work to do or did not receive approvals, after they have submitted annexures and medical reports must then concern the employer more than it should to the teachers. We have also further noted with concern, reports that some of our members have decided, on their own, to report back to work, as they are “feeling bored ” at home, doing nothing whilst their learners need them most.
Learning and protection under COVID-Environment
Members should be alive to the fact that the country is only experiencing low community infections, something that we all welcome but the virus is still with us and that it is their lives that we are protecting, which by the way, comes once. We thus urge upon such teachers to refrain from such practises, which then make our work exceedingly difficult, as vanguard of their basic conditions of service. Such teachers should never cry-foul when principals instruct them to complete sick leave forms, each time they become absent due to illness.
The Professional Educators’ Union makes a call to DBE and Provincial Education Departments, to expedite hiring of additional teachers and provision of additional classroom, if we are to have meaning learning and teaching in majority of our schools. That majority of grades attend school once per week in really for compliance sake and as good as leaving these learners alone and postpone it to the coming academic year, as this effectively means that such affected learners will attend only less than fifteen days per annum. We further urge PEDs to live up to their promise of zooming into their data base and hire all unemployed teachers, to deal with backlogged in the delivery of curriculum. We call upon all structures of PEU, to be switched-on always and they endeavour to aggressively defend the rights of teachers with comorbidities.