10 June 2009
The South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), representing two-thirds of teachers covered by the ELRC (Education Labour Relations Council), is pleased to announce the launch of a bargaining unit within the ELRC to cater for FETC (Further Education and Training Colleges) lecturers in terms of section 54 of the FET Act. The launch took place on the 9th of June.
"This step is long overdue", said SADTU Acting General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke, speaking at the launch: "The decision by the previous government to reconstitute the FETC sector on the basis of self-governing college councils left the employees in the sector high and dry, vulnerable and with no forum in which to protect and improve working conditions. It was scandalous that FET college lecturers were excluded from the 4% salary translation a year ago."
The parties to the FETC bargaining unit are the recently formed FETCEO (Further Education and Training College Employer Organisation), and the two trade union blocs CTU-SADTU and CTU-SAOU.
"As SADTU, we have found our engagements with representatives of FETCEO to be cordial and positive. This, we believe augurs well for the future of the FETC Bargaining Forum," said Maluleke.
The new Department of Higher Education will also participate in the deliberations of the bargaining unit as a non-voting member. This is important according to Maluleke because: "although the Department of Education may have devolved direct responsibility for the colleges to college councils, the FETC sector remains an integral part of the public education system. It is largely financed from the public fiscus, and it is central to government human resources and skills strategy. As such it deserves resources and is entitled to the full support of the relevant government department, which must also ensure that there is access for all our youngsters, particularly from disadvantaged communities."
The SADTU Acting General Secretary concluded by highlighting the vital role that the FET sector has to play:
"We believe that these are exciting times for education in general, and FET in particular. The present government has proclaimed education to be a priority of societal dimensions. The decision to divide higher education from basic education, appears to be motivated in part by the need to prioritise post-school education and training. Research indicates that there are some 3 million youngsters in the age group 18 to 24 who are neither in employment, nor in any form of education or training. We have to mobilize society`s resources in the SETAs and in the colleges to reach out to these youngsters; to rescue them from the degradation of unemployment and poverty, and train them to make a real contribution to the society.
"We believe that the FETC sector will be all the stronger to achieve this goal, if it is underpinned by stable industrial relations structures. To this end this day is a landmark in the development of collective bargaining in the FET sector, providing college lecturers with full labour rights and establishing structures to allow them to exercise those rights and to bargain for improved conditions."
Issued by: SADTU Secretariat
Thobile Ntola, President 079 491 3258
Mugwena Maluleke, Acting General Secretary 082 783 2968
Jon Lewis, Media Officer 082 567 5628