While teachers in the global North fight for living wages, teachers in the global South must often fight to receive the pay they have earned.

For almost a year, more than 500 teachers in KwaZulu-Natal (a province in South Africa) have been struggling to buy groceries, pay for transport to and from work and pay their bills because they have not received their salaries.

The numbers might be far higher, according to the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) and the National Teachers Union (NATU), which have pressed this issue with the governmental authorities.  The Provincial Department of Education has said the situation arose from requirements to verify teachers’ qualifications with universities, but SADTU has found the problem starts with underfunding of the system that documents teachers’ qualifications.

Affected teachers declined to talk to the news as they feared repercussions, but interviews with those willing to speak revealed teachers desperate for income, many relying on family members for support. While teachers were waiting for their salaries, they did not have medical aid or access to housing allowances.

At the same time teachers are working without the pay due them, a South African mining tycoon is pushing TechMet, a project to exploit the country's metals for technology.  The project continues his family's control over South Africa's mining resources.