In previous national and provincial News Flashes, NAPTOSA has explained what has transpired since the ELRC Collective Agreement 1 of 2011 (Matric Tariffs) was signed.  In a nutshell, the Department of Basic Education (DBE)  signed the collective agreement in April 2011, but in November 2011, indicated that the agreement was not enforceable, contained an error and that they did not have the necessary funding to implement the increased marking tariffs. NAPTOSA, as well as all the other teacher unions, is of the view  that the collective agreement is valid.


Developments  in 2012 / 13

The Employer (DBE) as well as the teacher unions obtained legal opinion on the matter early in 2012. Thereafter the Employer declared a dispute in May 2012. However, the matter was not settled during conciliation and before the arbitration commenced the DBE withdrew the dispute (February 2013). Soon thereafter the DBE invoked section 23 (4) of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) which allows a party to withdraw from an agreement.


Teacher unions apply for an interdict in the Labour Court

It was at this stage that the teacher unions turned to the Labour Court for an interdict to set aside the   DBE decision to terminate the agreement. The matter was heard on 26 March 2013. The significance of the judge’s ruling is that the status of the agreement must be settled in court. The case will be heard on 12 August 2013. This decision is welcomed, as the court’s ruling will provide clarity on the validity of the agreement. The collective agreement will only be terminated should the Labour Court rule in favour of the DBE.


The motivation for the application of an interdict.

Apart from the obvious interest in obtaining the best deal for matric markers, NAPTOSA, together with all the other teacher unions, is concerned about the undermining of collective bargaining. All parties admitted to the ELRC must engage in collective bargaining in good faith and secure mandates before signing a collective agreement. The DBE’s decision to invoke section 23 (4) of the LRA cannot be acceded to without a legal challenge. The DBE sent their negotiators to the ELRC to conclude an agreement and the Director General signed the agreement, as did the teacher unions. For the DBE to contend, after the fact, that it was a mistake and that they do not have the necessary funding, is, from our perspective, an undermining of collective bargaining. It is now up to the court to decide on the status of the agreement.