12 January 2019

South Africa: Schweizer Reneke Teacher's Suspension Unlawful, Says Union

Photo: Supplied
Schoolchildren at Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke.

The SA Teachers Union (SAOU) is demanding that the Schweizer-Reneke Primary School teacher at the centre of an alleged racism row be reinstated immediately, saying labour laws were ignored in the heat of the moment.

"The suspension is nothing more than a transparent fig-leaf of political opportunism and abuse of power. We have already started processes to challenge the suspension," said SAOU chief executive Chris Klopper.

The teacher was suspended as tempers flared over a photograph showing her class's white pupils together at a line of desks put together, and four black pupils at a desk cluster in a corner of the classroom.

Klopper said that the union is opposed to any form of discrimination and believed that the controversial photograph was one moment in a day where a series of photographs were taken, and is being seen in isolation.

He said that when the teacher was suspended, it was sudden and was allegedly done without following labour law procedure.

He alleged that the teacher was not given a letter stating the intention to suspend her, with reasons for the action, and inviting her to say why she should not be suspended, as is required by law.

A more serious version which gives an employer permission to simply state that an employee is being suspended was allegedly also not given to her.

"There was nothing whatsoever," he said. "The decision was just taken on the spur of the moment."

He had also heard that the teacher who took the photograph also faces suspension.

Neither the spokesperson for the North West government's premier, nor the school's governing body chairperson were immediately available to comment.

In the meantime, the teacher was staying at a private location away from the town to escape the wrath being directed at her.

"We are going to write a letter and put the school governing body and put the school governing body on terms," he said. In the letter they will demand that she is reinstated.

Source: News24

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