Teachers sacked for defying court orders - TSC
MBABANE – Government has dismissed the teachers for defying court orders stopping them from embarking on strikes.
This has been said by Mduduzi Nkambule, the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) Executive Secretary in court.
He was responding to the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) application to interdict government from relieving teachers of their duties for engaging in the strike that began on July 25, 2012.
Nkambule, in an answering affidavit, said SNAT’s application for the interdict against government was misplaced. He denied that the teachers were being dismissed for participating in the July 25, 2012 strike.
Government was represented by Principal Crown Counsel, Sifiso Khumalo in the matter, while Mandla Mkhwanazi appeared on behalf of SNAT.
Khumalo told Judge Nkosinathi Nkonyane and his nominated members of the bench, Gilbert Ndzinisa and Simon Mvubu, that the teachers were dismissed for participating in the protest actions that commenced on June 20, and July 6, 2012, respectively.
He said the letters of dismissal were succinct on the reason the teachers’ services were being terminated.
"It is a misconception that they were dismissed for participating in the July 25, 2012 action. The court had issued interdicts in respect of the June 20 and July 6, 2012 strikes and declared them unlawful. Those are the ones which the teachers are being disciplined for," Khumalo said.
Khumalo further said SNAT’s application should be dismissed with costs, because it had not listed the teachers for which the interdict was being sought.
He argued that the reliance on newspaper articles that some teachers had been suspended and others in line to be fired, was ‘just hearsay evidence’ not admissible before court.
Nkambule in his affidavit stated that, government was aware that a strike action had to be pronounced unlawful by the courts for it to be declared unlawful. He said, therefore, it could not have dismissed the teachers for embarking in the strike that resumed on July 25, 2012.
Mkhwanazi argued that government was disciplining the teachers with dismissals in respect of the July 25, 2012 strike. He said it was not disputed that the June 20 and July 6, 2012 protest actions had been declared unlawful by the courts.
He said, however, the cases in respect of those strikes were still pending before the Industrial Court.
"Whether or not the teachers go on to embark on the strike after the interim interdict, is yet to be determined by the court on August 20, 2012. SNAT began a new process to embark on the strike action and issued different notices which were different from the previous ones," Mkhwanazi alleged.
He said all the lawful processes required to engage in a strike, were followed and government was notified on time. He argued that the current strike was lawful, unless declared otherwise by the court.
He argued that government was dismissing the teachers in respect of participating in the action that commenced on July 25, 2012.
"If there was any ongoing strike action from July 6, 2012 onwards, we submit that it legally came to an end on July 24, 2012, by operation of the law. On July 25, 2012 a lawful and fresh strike action commenced. Coincidentally, government issued a warning on July 25, 2012, warning teachers to return to class not later than July 31, 2012," Mkhwanazi said.
He added, "Effectively, government meant that the teachers had begun a lawful strike action, but they should go back to work. It cannot be said that it was disciplining teachers for a strike action that was interdicted."
Judgment on the case was reserved to this morning.
‘SNAT should have listed affected teachers’
MBABANE – Government has argued that SNAT’s failure to list the affected teachers rendered their court case defective.
Principal Crown Counsel, Sifiso Khumalo, argued that SNAT had said some of its members were threatened and in fact dismissed, but failed to list them.
He said SNAT had only attached one letter of dismissal belonging to Fikile Dlamini from Masundvwini Primary School.
However, Mandla Mkhwanazi argued that SNAT could not have known which members government was targeting. He said at the time the application was launched there was no teacher dismissed, but SNAT relied on the Times of Swaziland article.
He said the Minister of Education and Training Wilson Ntshangase, in the article had said there were some teachers already targeted for dismissals.
"There are threats and an axe hanging over any teacher. It is government that knows which teachers it has targeted for dismissals. SNAT is acting to protect its members," Mkhwanazi said.
Mkhwanazi said government had begun and was continuing with the process of dismissing teachers, hence the application for an interdict.
We won’t dismiss teachers for current strike - govt
MBABANE – Government has assured that it would not dismiss teachers for the current strike action.
Principal Crown Counsel, Sifiso Khumalo, said government could not have disciplined the teachers for the strike action, because it had not been declared unlawful. Khumalo, on behalf of government, stated that government reserved a right to discipline the teachers in respect of the June 20 and July 6, 2012 protest actions undertaken by teachers, even after they had been declared unlawful by the court.
He said, as employer, government would take any action at anytime, therefore, acting on July 25, 2012 should not be construed as punishment for the current strike action.
"The teachers have a right to sue for unfair dismissal, but today (yesterday) we are addressing the interdict that we submit is misplaced," Khumalo said.
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