Community learning centre employees struggle with 45,5% salary cut

───   OLEBOGENG MOTSE 16:01 Mon, 23 Aug 2021

Community learning centre employees struggle with 45,5% salary cut | News Article

Lecturers at community learning centres in the Free State are struggling to make ends meet with 45% slashed from their salaries as of June 2021.

One of the lecturers stationed at the Bloemfontein centre, who has asked to remain anonymous, tells OFM News she is highly stressed. She has a lot of debt to pay off and this pay cut via the standardisation of salaries by the National Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) is crippling her household income. This comes as these centres, formerly known as night schools and/or adult-based education and training (Abet) centres, embark on a go-slow over contractual disputes with the DHET. The Bloemfontein lecturer says her salary has gone from over R11 000 to over R4 000, since the aforementioned department decided employees must become permanent and make the necessary contributions to pension funds and tax.

The go-slow comes on the back of a nationwide June 2021 picket, wherein the same issue was raised. The manager of the Golden Fountain Community Learning Centre in Xhariep and the member of the Free State task team, George Cupido says that the unauthorised reduction of working hours has also contributed to these gross salary cuts, but stresses no one – certainly in the province - has signed a contract to that effect. 

READ: FS community learning centres on a go-slow

According to Cupido, a March 2021 circular signed off by the DHET Director-General, says as of June 2021, all lecturers at the aforementioned centres will be bound to work 3 hours per day, five days a week. This comes up to 15 hours per week. This is down from the 19 hours that the lecturers used to work over a four day period whilst still under the jurisdiction of the Department of Basic Education. The centres were switched to DHET in 2015.

He says this March 2021 circular has since been contradicted by at least two others. The first says the standardisation needed to be greenlit by the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) before implementation and a second from the Free State Department stated that lecturers with a relative education qualification value (REQV) of below 13 would work 15 hours per week, whereas those with an REQV level of 13 and 14, including centre managers, would work 25 hours per week and be compensated accordingly. This is yet to be confirmed by the DHET to OFM News.

“We are confused now. We don’t know how many hours we should work. We expect them to solve the problem and provide us with a permanent contract that specifies the conditions of employment,” says Cupido angrily. To date, lecturers countrywide are yet to receive permanent contracts. The employment conditions for these centres remain a mystery to these employees.

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