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Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)

FET News Flash 1 of 2014 Transfer of College Employees to the Employ of DHET (1)

Transfer of college employees to THE employ of DHET (1)

FETCBU (ELRC) Collective Agreement 5 of 2013, Agreement on the transfer of the public further education and training college lecturers from the colleges to DHET in terms of FETC Amendment Act No 3 of 2012 and subject to section 197 of the Labour Relations Act, was signed by parties early in December 2013.    A similar agreement for support staff was also signed by the majority of labour parties and the employer in the FETCBU (GPSSBC).  However, the agreements first have to be ratified by the ELRC and GPSSBC respectively before implementation can commence.  

This news flash deals with general issues related to the transfer.  Following news flashes will deal with specifics and processes.  Please note that the two agreements are more or less the same.

 When will college staff be transferred to DHET?

It is unfortunately not possible to give a specific date.  Once the agreements have been ratified, the Minister of Higher Education and Training must, in terms of section 35 of the FETC Amendment Act, 2012, determine a date on which section 12 will come into operation (section 12 allows for the Minister of Higher Education and Training to appoint staff on DHET's staff establishment).  It is, however, important to note that the agreements provide for a phased in approach with regard to the transfer of staff.

In practice it may mean that the Minister will publish a date on which college staff will become state employees.  Only after the announcement of the date the processes contained in the agreements will commence.  It may take some time before the transfer process will be completed.  NAPTOSA is of the opinion that the status quo with regard to payment of salaries, appointments etc, would remain for quite some time.

Why did NAPTOSA sign the agreement if there is a possibility that some staff members will not be transferred to DHET (the "63% issue")?

The short answer to this question is that the "63% issue" is contained in section 34 of the FETC Amendment Act, 2012) and that, irrespective of whether unions have signed the agreements or not, this would have formed the basis of the transfer. The purpose of the agreements is mainly to apply the law and set out how the transfer process will be executed and who will be involved, also taking into account the protection of conditions of service that section 197 of the Labour Relations Act, 1995, provides.

Section 34 reads as follows:  "Any  lecturer or member of the support staff employed by a public college in a post that is fully funded in terms of the norms and standards on 1 January 2012, must be verified by the Minister as fully funded posts, and the Minister must, subject to section 197 of the Labour Relations Act, transfer those posts to the organisational structure of the Department in accordance with the Public Service Act".

The norms and standards referred to above, are contained in a national policy document, Norms and Standards for the Funding of Public FET Colleges.  In terms of these norms and standards fully funded posts only refer to posts approved by the Minister and these are directly linked to NC(V) and  Programme 191 (NATED) courses.  This implies that only lecturers teaching NC(V) and Programme 191 subjects, will be considered for transfer to DHET.  The only exception is that all the lecturers and support staff who originally were employed by the state and transferred to college employment on 1 January 2008, will be transferred back to the state.

In terms of the Norms and Standards for the Funding of Public FET Colleges, 63% of the allocation colleges receive, is for funding personnel costs.  Most of the colleges use 63% (or even less) of their allocation for personnel expenses.  There are, however, a few colleges whose personnel expenses are way above 63%.  We will specifically deal with this issue in another news flash.  Please note that reference to the 63% for personnel costs does not include the funding of Persal posts.  This money is transferred directly to the provincial departments of education.

 As the principle of the 63% is clearly stated in the Amendment Act, we were not able to negotiate the transfer of all college employees, irrespective of where the funding for their employment comes from, in spite of many efforts from NAPTOSA's side.