Education Labour Relations Council 2012 strategic plan

Basic Education

13 March 2012
Chairperson: Ms H Malgas (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) presented its strategic plan and budget for 2013-2015, and then presented the Annual Performance Plan for 2012/13. It was noted that the ELRC had, since 1994, provided services to both employer and employees in terms of the Labour Relations Act and Employment of Educators Act. The splitting of the former Department of Education into two separate departments had necessitated a change in approach for the Annual Performance Plan. Overall, however, the strategic plan noted that the ELRC would contribute to improved basic education in line with Government Outcome 1. The strategic plan also took into account the Action Plan to 2014, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) 2025 education vision and the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union’s 2030 Vision. ELRC’s priorities and mandate included research, promotion of labour peace, educator morale and educator wellbeing, by preventing disputes, or minimising their impact through intervention and mediation. The ELRC also provided collective bargaining services, and promoted the best fit between good educational outcomes and fair conditions of employment. It provided dispute resolution practitioners, panellists, prosecutors and intermediaries, for a rights-based approach to dispute resolution. All panellists were independent of ELRC, but it did provide professional development for dispute resolution practitioners. Particular care and focus was placed on child issues. It participated in a number of national campaigns in the field of education. Its approach was proactive, and it attempted to manage its risks and challenges. It was essential for ELRC to try to ensure commitment of all parties to the process and speedy resolution of disputes and it was mindful of the need to reduce time taken to obtain mandates and follow up on processes. It hoped to deal with the increase of the levy within a shorter timeframe than in the past. ELRC currently catered for 410 000 educators in basic education. There was the possibility that in future an Adult Education and training bargaining unit may be established. The ELRC expected its budget, based on contributions of R10 from 400 000 contributors, to remain static over the medium term, but noted that it did have some accumulated reserved to supplement its income. The breakdown of budget across the five programmes and services was set out, and the priorities of those programmes, and their targets, was also contained in the presentation.

Members asked for more details on the separation of the departments, the principles behind the social agreements and questioned the role of the ELRC in the laptop programme, noting that no final answers had been given to the Committee as to when this would be fully implemented. Members asked what role the ELRC was likely to play in the Eastern Cape, whether it was doing anything about youth programmes in education, and what time frames were anticipated for dealing with children’s issues. Members asked about the levy, the use of reserves to run the ELRC, the length of time taken for cases and what ELRC would do if cases were not proceeding as expected. They also questioned the vacancies.

Meeting report

Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) Strategic Plan 2013-15 briefing
Mr Dhaya Govender, Chief Executive Officer, Education Labour Relations Council, introduced the Strategic Plan for 2013-15 , and said that the objectives and operations of the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) were an all inclusive process. The ELRC worked towards achieving  government’s priority Outcome 1 of improved basic education, and the strategic plan also took into account the Action Plan to 2014, and the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union’s (SADTU) 2030 vision, with written documents as well as oral inputs being made.

The strategic principles were set out. The ELRC engaged in research that would prioritise the study of factors that promoted labour peace, educator morale and educator wellbeing. It aimed to ensure labour peace and prevent disputes of rights and mutual interest through intervention and mediation. The ELRC also provided collective bargaining services, and promoted the best fit between good educational outcomes and fair conditions of employment. It could assist with dispute resolution practitioners, panellists, prosecutors and intermediaries, so as to ensure a rights-based approach to dispute resolution, with the central focus on children. It also participated in special initiatives and campaigns such as Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC), Teacher Laptop Initiative (TLI), Teacher Development (TD), and the ELRC-Prevention Care and Treatment Access (PCTA) project.

Mr Govender tabled the pieces of legislation from which the ELRC derived its mandate (see attached presentation for details) and noted that other pieces of legislation that affected its work also included the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998, Skills Development Act 97 of 1998, Public Finance Management Act 1 of 1999, and Promotion of Access to Information Act 54 of 2002. ELRC was also bound by the agreement between the Minister of Basic Education and the President, and the plans to realisation of schooling 2025, as well as the SADTU vision for 2030.

ELRC was running five programmes, each of which was dedicated to a core mandate. These were Programme 1: Dispute Management Services, Programme 2: Collective Bargaining Services, Programme 3: Executive Services, Programme 4: Corporate Services, and Programme 5: Capital Expenditure.

Mr Govender added that the government outcome of achieving access to quality education guided the strategic plans, and was paramount through all planning processes, and in relation to teachers’ conditions of service and career prospects. ELRC obviously required adequate human resources to ensure that it was able to deliver services. All panellists were to be independent of the ELRC, especially in the arbitration field. ELRC also provided professional development for the dispute resolution practitioners. This would contribute to a culture that was achievement-oriented. The governance structures and members of the management were involved in providing such direction to the ELRC.

He noted that other areas of importance were research, monitoring and evaluation, proactive dispute management, collective bargaining that maximised cooperation, training and development and communication. All of these were therefore included in the strategic objectives (see attached presentation for details).

Mr Govender then moved on to discuss risk management. ELRC’s risks in respect of the collective bargaining process would be affected by the economic situation. If there were lack of commitment from the parties towards the bargaining process, this would impede the conclusion of the matters. The time taken to obtain mandates, and follow up regularly on the process made, needed to be reduced. In respect of dispute resolution management, he noted that once again, a poor attitude of parties to reaching a speedy resolution of disputes would negatively impact upon the processes of speedy resolution. There were some sensitive disputes that involved children as victims, or witnesses, and these needed to be handled with particular care, including arranging for special venues, and this also tended to increase the time taken. Disputes relating to appointments could delay the resolution of the appointments. The ELRC was continuously updating its referral forms, taking these particular challenges into account, and was undergoing continuous training of dispute practitioners, who were all included in the risk management plan. He also noted that it was recognised that there were particular challenges around the negotiations for a levy increase, and in future it was hoped to deal with these earlier, as they had, in the past, taken up to two years to reach agreement.

ELRC Annual Performance Plan (APP)
Mr Jeff Moshakga, Chief Financial Officer, ELRC, presented the Annual Performance Plan (APP), which covered the year April 2012 to March 2013. He noted that since the former Ministry of Education had been divided, and two Departments of Basic (DBE) and of Higher Education and Training (DHET) had been established, an APP was needed for basic education. This APP was also guided by the Action Plan and the DBE’s document “Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2025”, which provided a significant and detailed plan for the improvement of basic education. In addition, it was influenced by the need to achieve on government Outcome 1, and SADTU’s Vision 2030.

He noted that the key steps that this APP set out for 2012/13 included research, monitoring and evaluation activities that
would provide an evidence base for improved policies and policy implementation in basic education, which would promote labour peace, educator morale and educator wellbeing. Disputes of rights and mutual interest would be prevented, where possible, through intervention, and mediation. Collective agreements would be enforced, and the rights of children involved in disputes would be given special attention.

He noted that c
ollective bargaining processes would maximise the scope of the parties’ shared interests, to achieve the best possible fit between good educational outcomes, and a fair deal for the teaching profession. The ELRC would be offering appropriate support and training for everyone involved in dispute resolution and collective bargaining. It would be doing training of Dispute Resolution Practitioners (DRPs), whilst intermediaries and panelists would provide the basis for an effective, rights-based approach to the core activities of the ELRC. He also noted that sound communication strategies, special initiatives and campaigns would help complement the core activities.

The ELRC operated in the Public Education Labor Relations Environment. Since 1994, it had catered for the employer and employees, in terms of the Employment of Educators Act.  The ELRC rendered labour relations in terms of the Labour Relations Act. These services included collective bargaining, both nationally and in the provinces, intended primarily at facilitating consultations between the parties, the promotion of labour peace, through the resolution of mutual interest disputes, and the resolution of individual rights disputes. The ERLC had expanded its services, over time, to include research and development of matters pertinent to employment relations in public education, training and development, and special initiatives to support delivery in public education.

The ELRC catered for 410 000 educators in basic education. There were distinctions, in the education environment, between basic education and higher education and training, and there was also a possibility of an Adult Education and Training (AET) bargaining unit.

Budget and expenditure report
Mr Moshakga said that the ELRC was expected to remain
static over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period. It was based on 400 000 contributors. However, the strategic outcome oriented goals were not compromised, and the available accumulated reserves supplemented the ELRC’s income.

He tabled the expenditure of the ELRC (see attached presentation for details), noting the division of the budget between Dispute Management Services (19.5%), Collective Bargaining and Related Services (43%)
, Support Services (26%), Capital Expenditure (11.5%). He noted that the budgeted income for 2011/2012 was based on a levy of R10, which was the same as in the previous year. The Further Education and Training College sector was not included.

He then proceeded to set out the targets and purpose of each of the programmes. Programme 1: Dispute Management Services, aimed to manage disputes in a proactive way, and this included
prevention of disputes by attempting to diffuse conflicts that could disrupt teaching and learning, as well as dispute resolution. Professional development and training was also included in Programme 1 to ensure that DRPs and panelists would operate effectively, and there was particular emphasis on training that helped to protect the rights of children involved in special disputes. He set out the targets (see attached presentation) across the provinces.

Programme 2: Collective Bargaining Services, aimed to contribute to the ELRC’s vision of a strengthened social contract between government, teacher unions and civil society, which would help create a conducive environment for improved quality in teaching and learning. ELRC wanted to maximise the scope of the parties’ shared interest, and promote collective bargaining. This particularly related to collective bargaining on matters of mutual interest in public education, provision of facilitation services to support collective bargaining at national and provincial levels
, and research on teacher welfare and national development issues. The targets were again set out (see attached presentation) and he noted that these included targets for educators attending the Education Conference. In addition, the planning and evaluation for the annual workshops must be completed by the fourth quarter. There were targets for information sharing and employee wellness, with the aim of bringing down the rate of absenteeism. Targets were also included for increasing school safety, training of teachers with skills gaps, implementation and monitoring of collective agreements, and most effective use of temporary educators.

Mr Dhaya Govender then presented Programme 3, which included Executive Services. He noted that this programme managed all the service divisions of the ELRC to ensure that stakeholders derived maximum value from its activities. ELRC would intervene to circumvent labor unrest, nationally and provincially, to ensure the sound financial and risk management of the Council, to ensure sound governance of the Council, to support continuous quantifiable productivity of knowledge efforts internally, and to build the corporate image of the ELRC. Annual targets were also set out.

Mr Govender noted that the purpose of Programme 4 was to provide financial, Human Resource and administrative support to the core operational functions, so as to deliver an efficient and effective service. There were several sub-programmes, whose strategic objectives were set out, together with the targets.

Programme 5: Capital Expenditure was intended to provide the necessary capital resources to ensure effective and efficient delivery of the ELRC’s operations to fulfill its mandate. This programme focused on managing
the property and assets of the Council to increase its effectiveness, economy, transparency and integrity, and to achieve timeous procurement. Targets were once again set out.

Mr Govender concluded that these reports demonstrated the commitment of the ELRC, which would try to achieve targets in line with Tanzania, presently the leader in this field.

Ms F Mushwana (ANC) asked about the separation of the departments and what, for practical purposes would be seen as exit points.

Mr Govender said that an explanation on this would be included in the Minister’s presentation to the House.

Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) asked about the principles behind the social agreements.

Mr Mpontshane wondered why no satisfactory answers had yet been provided to this Committee about the laptops that were supposed to be delivered to teachers. He also questioned if the ELRC had been involved in the dispute in KwaZulu Natal.

Mr Govender said that the ELRC had discussed the questions raised with the Department of Basic Education and the Director General would elaborate on this.

Mr D Smiles (DA) asked why there was no mention of the minority groups in the report. He also asked about the specific role of the ELRC in the Eastern Cape temporary teachers’ programme. He also wanted to hear what the ELRC would do in relation to youth programmes in education.

Mr Govender said that the ELRC was not involved to any great degree in the programmes mentioned; it would be more involved in the general improvement of basic education. However, in the Eastern Cape, the ELRC would become involved in helping the parties resolve their issues.

Mr Z Makhubele (ANC) asked about the sensitivity of children’s issues, and what time frames were set out for dealing with them.

Mr Govender answered that the ELRC would take special care – and therefore more time - on child issues, given that they needed to be handled with more care. He could not give specific details on time frames. ELRC would develop special capacities to deal with child cases, but he could not go into the full details at this time.

Mr C Moni (ANC) asked whether the current levy system was sustainable.

Mr Dhaya said the reserves were being utilised to run ELRC, and that the levy increase should be percentage-based, and determined according to a bench-mark. This would help to sustain the programmes later.

Ms N Gina (ANC) asked what proposals were in place to increase the levy.

Mr Moshakga said that the levy was increased to R5 per educator, in 2007. The ELRC had in the meantime been registered as a public entity, and public entities were not supposed to hold any surpluses. The ELRC would have to make proposals around how the current surplus was to be used.

Mr Gina asked how long the cases would usually last, and asked what the ELRC would do if the parties were not performing as expected.

Ms H Malgas (ANC), asked about the vacancies at top management. She then wondered how the ELRC would coordinate possible duplication of services in the teacher programmes. She also asked why nothing was mentioned in the Annual Report about four of the provinces.

The meeting was adjourned.


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