Education department mum on youth pay

The widely-circulated recruitment notice for Covid-19 Brigades.

School patrollers and covid-19 brigades say they have not been paid for the past three months.

Thousands of young people employed by the Gauteng Department of Education as patrollers and covid-19 brigades at schools are angered as the department won’t say when they will get their salaries. They have not been paid their salary for more than three months though some were lucky enough to receive half. They produced copies of contracts as evidence of the agreement between them and the department. Patrollers are supposed to be paid a monthly salary of R2,100 and covid-19 brigades R3,000.

While patrollers help to safeguard property, maintain safety and minimise crime on school premises, brigades were placed at schools to do screening, data capturing and monitor compliance with social distancing and sanitising protocol.

They spoke of their hardships and asked that their names be withheld for fear of reprisal as some of their contracts are still valid.

“My mom is the single parent and the only one working and she was happy when I landed this job, that I was going to help her,” said one of the members of the covid-19 youth brigade at Cresswold School for learners with special needs in Johannesburg. She added that she is a mother herself of a young boy of six months and three months without a salary has made her life unbearable. “Nappies, food, child minder, taxi fares, debts, I can go on and on of my burdens. This is really tough and they keep telling us to come to work though they don’t know when the department will pay us.”

One of her colleagues said she has resigned from the programme because of the non-payment of salaries but vowed to fight by approaching the Department of Labour or CCMA. Another patroller at Ekukhanyisweni Primary School in Alexandra said that after a long time unemployed, she was not expecting this kind of disappointment. She showed her contract to prove that she is owed four months of salary as patrollers started earlier than brigades. “My husband is running a small spaza shop and for me to be employed came as a relief,” she said.

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When approached on the matter, Kenneth Vickerman of the National Association of School Governing Bodies, said this is worrying and has potential to disrupt learning in a year already ravaged by the coronavirus. He committed to follow the matter up with the department. 

Steve Mabona, speaking on behalf of the education department, had only this to say on a Whatsapp text: “We have paid majority of our Youth Brigades, those with individual challenges are being assisted.”

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