CentralSACommunity college lecturers in Pretoria protest over contracts spat - VIDEO
─── OLEBOGENG MOTSE 14:36 Thu, 16 Sep 2021
The controversial standardisation of salaries for employees of Community Education and Training (CET) centres, that resulted in pay cuts as high as 45%, is back in the spotlight.
On Thursday 16 September, the provincial teams tasked with airing the grievances of these community college lecturers to the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), marched to said department’s headquarters in Pretoria, Gauteng, demanding a complete relook or overhaul of the standardisation process. The Free State team is also present.
Whilst DHET’s Ishmael Mnisi maintains that all community learning centre employees received their letters of permanency in 2020, which outlined their working conditions and the standardisation of salaries that came into effect in June 2021, the lecturers stress otherwise.
The lecturers say there is no clarity with respect to the varying working hours, never mind that they never agreed to the pay cuts that they are now subjected to. Chief amongst their demands is a permanent employment contract stipulating their scope of work, compensation and the nature of appointment for all lecturers. The employees say they were notified of the standardisation via government circulars that provided very little information on the process. The disgruntled group also wants to have equal salary statuses as teachers in the Basic Education Sector and other Public Service workers; equal working hours; and a refund of the money already deducted from salaries in the last few months.
This is but a few of their demands which are also outlined in an online petition signed by over 1000 people on change.org.
The manager of the Golden Fountain Community Learning Centre in Xhariep, and member of the Free State task team, George Cupido, maintains DHET is not telling the truth. 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 adds 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 DHET’s Free State CET principal Agnes Matlawa 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. “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.
DHET, on the other end of this, says they in fact consulted with the General Public Service Sector Bargaining Council (GPSSBC) on the standardisation of salaries for these centres as well as varied labour unions. “That process began with a settlement agreement signed in the GPSSBC in February 2019. Consultation with recognised unions continued from then until implementation, which is ongoing. In addition, there were various circulars and presentations provided to staff and management teams in CET colleges,” says DHET.
OFM News’ is in possession of a statement from the National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) in the Western Cape, dated August 2021, which states that the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) is the only union that has signed off on a standardisation agreement with DHET. Yet the standardisation is already in place across the board.