This article reports on a study that was conducted in 10 urban schools, situated in the city of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. The research explored the perceptions of school stakeholders with regard to the effects of power relations between teacher unions and school managers. It is assumed, within the context of this research, that school managers would, ideally, know how to act in times of conflict to solve problems emanating from power wrangling and thus ensure that their schools continue to function effectively at all times. It was found, however, that there are significant differences between the running of schools where teacher trade unions are politically strong, and schools where the unions are relatively weak or barely visible. The research findings suggest that in schools where there are strong political union affiliations among teachers, there are very real possibilities of these affiliations leading to the paralysis of school management and leadership, with negative consequences for the creation of effective teaching and learning.
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