Mr Brian Isaacs states that ’it is my opinion that the Western Cape Education Department is using the Labour Relations’ Department to whip teachers into shape’. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
Mr Brian Isaacs states that ’it is my opinion that the Western Cape Education Department is using the Labour Relations’ Department to whip teachers into shape’. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Labour relations councils are 'terrorising teachers'

By Brian Isaacs Time of article published Jun 18, 2021

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The recent article in the Cape Times of June 14 refers, (Teacher to return to job and receive R369 716 from WCED) concerning the Education Labour Relations Council decision to overturn the Western Cape Education Department’s (WCED) decision to dismiss teacher Lee-Anne Snyders charged with 14 misdemeanours.

Many teachers in the Western Cape have been abused by the Labour Relations’ Department (LRD) of the WCED since 1994. I have written extensively about what I call the anti-teacher LRD.

I have called for an independent inquiry into the workings of the LRD. It is my experience that it is a department within WCED that has been used by various officials within WCED to settle scores with teachers.

So many teachers are scared of this dreaded LRD (not only the teachers, but the teacher trade unions representing the teachers) that they plead guilty to charges brought against them so that they get a monetary fine from the LRA and breathe a sigh of relief.

When I was dismissed by the WCED as a principal in 2016, I was found guilty of delivering one punch to the shoulder of a student who swore at me. The secretary of the school saw the interaction I had with the male learner. She testified that I did not punch the boy.

The WCED believed the boy and his friend. Both had over 50 transgressions to their names. Yet I was found guilty by the WCED. Not satisfied with this, the WCED summonsed me to a second disciplinary hearing in 2016 and found me guilty of writing an article criticising the WCED and also dismissed me.

There was a third case against me because I had demanded that a neighbour return traffic cones outside the school’s front gates. I suppose WCED is keeping it in its back pocket just in case I return to teaching!

I raise my issue because as can be seen the WCED, if they want to get rid of a teacher they use their brutal LRD machine. This machine must be destroyed and it must be annihilated now. I think that all across South Africa these nine provincial LRD bullying machines are terrorising teachers ad infinitum.

Recently in the WCED case against the brave principal Wesley Neumann of Heathfield High (the WCED alleges that he refused to open the school in June 2020 because of Covid-19), an official of the WCED in the LRD is alleged to have visited a teacher at Heathfield High at his home to bribe him to give evidence against Neumann.

This official is alleged to have said to the teacher of Heathfield High: “I got rid of Mr Brian Isaacs”.

The presiding officer in Neumann’s case refused permission to have this teacher testify in favour of Neumann.

It is my opinion that the WCED is using the LRD to whip teachers into shape. Teachers, in general, have succumbed to the bullying tactics of the WCED. It is a sad indictment on teachers in the system if they are not prepared to speak truth to power like the Czech Vaclav Havel did in the early 1980s.

I sincerely hope that the present head of education in the Western Cape is going to revamp and restructure the LRD. There have been no signs of fresh political and educational ideas coming from the newly appointed HOD. I find this very disappointing. But then again, we have a MEC for education in the Western Cape who has not been very progressive politically or educationally.

The only solution is for progressive organisations in education and like-minded organisations outside education to meet and discuss a progressive educational system in South Africa including a fair system for teachers.

Lee-Ann Snyders of Primrose Primary School, I salute you. I admire your tenacity. You have shown your colleagues what it means to speak truth to power.

* Brian Isaacs obtained a BSc (UWC) in 1975, a Secondary Teacher’s Diploma in 1976, BEd (UWC) in 1981, and MEd (UWC) in 1992. He is a former matriculant, teacher and principal at South Peninsula High School.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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