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Buffalo City Special Schools Spared From Strike Until After Exams

The strike action from several special schools in the Buffalo City District has been suspended to give the Eastern Cape Department of Education and the Provincial Treasury an opportunity to sort out their payment issues.
The non-teaching staff from the various special schools in the Buffalo City District embarked on a strike last week over the payment disputes.
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union [Nehawu] regional representative in Buffalo City, Mzwakhe Tywala said the union affiliates went on a go-slow protest from March after raising the issue of overtime payments for years.
“For years our members have been working overtime and are not getting paid for it despite several promises by the Department of Education. 
Since March they have been on a go-slow, like doing only their normal working hours and didn’t put them over, although overtime is unavoidable in an environment that deals with disabled people,” said Tywala. 
He said the workers have also raised other issues such as they were not properly graded. Tywala said: “We have drivers who are driving the school bus with Code 14, yet their payment is equivalent to a messenger with Code 8 licence.
They are also complaining that the schools are no longer filling vacancies, if there are staff members who have gone on retirement or are deceased the schools are adding more people from the Expanded Public Works Program [EPWP] instead of hiring.
He said Nehawu and the Eastern Cape Department of Education held several discussions where there were commitments to compensate the employees for their extra efforts.
“They told us [ECDoE] that the Provincial Treasury had instructed them to consolidate the lists of employees who are supposed to be paid from all the schools.
The problem is that the BCM list had long been submitted, so it is unfair for our members to suffer because of the sloppiness of the department to have the lists from all the schools and districts,” said Tywala. 
The School Governing Body chairwoman of Vukuhambe Special School, Amanda Somekethe said they are relieved that the strike has been called off to give matriculants the opportunity to write their exams undisrupted.
“It worried us that we have learners who are taking treatment, learners who need to be assisted and unhappy staff that are not committed to helping,” said Somekethe.
Eastern Cape Department of Education Spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima said the department project team is fast-tracking the completion of the matter by the first week of November.
He said approval for the current overtime worked has been granted and will be paid on a month to month basis.
Caption: Striking staff at Vukuhambe Special School in Mdantsane, East London, one of the special schools that were on strike.

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