COSATU in KwaZulu-Natal has slammed the decision by the provincial department of education to retrench over 4 000 educators as a result of the budget cuts amounting to R6.3 billion.
The trade union federation said the move would have catastrophic socioeconomic consequences for the province, in particular the poor and impoverished.
COSATU said on Monday that it had long warned government against the austerity measures that undermine public spending and service delivery.
“It is the continuation of the neoliberal agenda which was advanced by the former Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni,” said the federation.
“Our union, SADTU has last month staged a picket and submitted memorandum of demands, which cautioned government against its failure to fill vacant positions and to honour its commitment as far as the payment of salaries of educators is concerned. The pronouncement by the KZN MEC of Education is a sign of a government that is not willing to see to the needs of its workers.”
SADTU’s NEC also raised its concerns about the matter during the weekend.
The teachers union slammed austerity measures that ‘are being brought through the back door without a popular mandate’.
“The union has seen this in the education sector with, for instance, in KwaZulu Natal Department of Education announcing that its budget would be cut by no less that R6,4 billion over the next financial year,” said SADTU.
“This could adversely affect the employment of no less than 6 114 education workers and education support personnel. The learners cannot be denied the right to education because of austerity measures.”
SADTU added: “Austerity measures are cause of instability and the education system cannot be subjected to any form of instability because our learners have already suffered huge time losses and trauma due to the pandemic.”
“To grow an inclusive and sustainable economy that will create decent jobs for all, means we cannot allow any austerity measures in education because SDG8 which is about decent jobs requires global competencies and this is only achievable if we invest in the SDG4 which deals with education.”
The recent quarterly labour report indicates that a significant number of jobs have been lost and this trend has been re-enforced by the COVID pandemic, said SADTU.