Education Labour Relations Council on its 2013/14 Annual Report

Basic Education

16 October 2014
Chairperson: Ms N Gina (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Portfolio Committee received a briefing from the Education Labour Relations Council on its 2013/14 Annual Report. The presentation on the Annual Report comprised of a background of the legislative mandate, strategic overview and strategic outcome oriented goals. The presentation also focused on the service delivery and organisational environments, policy developments and legislative changes. The annual financial statements of the Council were also to be presented.

The General Secretary of the Education Labour Relations Council presented to the Committee the performance information of the ELRC by its various programmes. These programmes included: Dispute Management Services; Collective Bargaining Services; Administration; and Capital Expenditure. The performance of these programmes was presented for both the national level and the provincial chambers.

On financial statements, the Committee was told that the ELRC had received an unqualified audit opinion from the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA). In terms of liquidity, the ELRC had the ability to pay all of its short term debt. The ELRC was able to survive in the long term, avoid insolvency and remain solvent. During the 2013/14 financial year, the ELRC had a total income of R49.3 million and a total expenditure of R46.8 million leaving and operating surplus of R2.5 million.

During the discussion which followed the presentation, the Committee Chairperson asked why the ELRC had no CFO. The General Secretary replied that the CFO had resigned in March 2013. The post had been advertised and a new CFO was starting on the 1st November 2014.

The Committee commended the ELRC on the unqualified audit opinion it had received. Members said this was a good sign and hoped that the Council will continue on that path. Members asked how the ELRC managed incentives to be given to educators. What was the status in terms of temporal educators? How did the ELRC address issues where it failed to achieve its agreements? The Committee inquired into the allegation that the ELRC had resolved a lot of cases only in terms of administrative and not the core issues affecting educators. How was the ELRC managing its relationship with the unions? Was there an inter-organisational relationship in place and how functional was this relationship?

A Member of the ANC said it was good that the AGSA had given the ELRC an unqualified audit but looking at the audit results of the audit done by the Audit Committee, there was still a lot to be done. What plan of action was in place to address these issues?

The Chairperson said there was need for more coordination on the various activities in the education sector. There was so much input and activity but the output was not very visible as there was not sufficient general coordination. She thanked the ELRC for the presentation and said she looked forward to more interaction between the Committee and the ELRC.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed Members and the officials from the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC).

ELRC briefing on Annual Report

Ms Cindy Foca, General Secretary, ELRC, presented the Annual Report to the Committee. The presentation on the Annual Report comprised of a background of the legislative mandate, strategic overview and strategic outcome oriented goals. The presentation also focused on the service delivery and organisational environments, policy developments and legislative changes. The annual financial statements of the Council were also to be presented.

Strategic Overview

After outlining the legislative mandate, vision, mission and values of the ELRC, Ms Foca presented the strategic outcome-oriented goals of the ELRC. These included:

Goal1: Research and monitoring and evaluation activities provided an evidence base for improved policies and policy implementation in basic education. In this regard, two issues were identified for research and these were Early Childhood Development (ECD) Practitioners and violence in South African Schools.

Goal 2: Equal importance attached to proactive dispute prevention and dispute resolution. The progress in this regard included the setting up of Dispute Prevention Committees and Task Teams.

Goal 3: Collective bargaining processes to maximise the scope of the parties’ shared interest. Ms Foca told the Committee that this goal had not been achieved.

Goal 4: The providing of appropriate support and training for all involved in dispute resolution and collective bargaining. In terms of progress, training had been provided for Panelists and Dispute Resolution Practitioners.

Goal 5: Sound communication strategies, special initiatives and campaigns support and complementing the core activities of the Council. In terms of progress, the ELRC had set special initiatives, new marketing strategies, improved participation in education exhibitions and had entered into a partnership with the SOMAFCO Trust.

Performance Information

In the service delivery environment, the Committee was briefed on Dispute Management Services, dispute prevention and facilitation, dispute resolution and the collective bargaining services.  

In terms of the organisational environment, Ms Foca outlined the career and succession planning strategy, recruitment and retention strategy and a proposal to address static revenue.

Ms Foca presented to the Committee the performance information of the ELRC by its various programmes. These programmes included: Dispute Management Services; Collective Bargaining Services; Administration; and Capital Expenditure. The performance of these programmes was presented for both the national level and the provincial chambers.

Annual Financial Statements

The Committee was told that the ELRC had received an unqualified audit opinion from the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA). In terms of liquidity, the ELRC had the ability to pay all of its short term debt. The ELRC was able to survive in the long term, avoid insolvency and remain solvent.

During the 2013/14 financial year, the ELRC had a total income of R49.3 million and a total expenditure of R46.8 million leaving and operating surplus of R2.5 million.

In conclusion, Ms Foca told the Committee that there was an improvement in overall performance in the 2013/14 financial year compared to the 2012/13 financial year. The main area of concern which still needed to be address was collective bargaining. She stated that the ELRC appreciated the oversight role of the Portfolio Committee.

Discussion

The Chairperson asked why the ELRC had no Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

Ms Foca replied that the CFO had resigned in March 2013. The post had been advertised and a new CFO was starting on the 1 November 2014.

The Chairperson welcomed the Chairperson of the ELRC who had just joined the meeting.

Adv Luvuyo Bono, Chairperson, ELRC, said he was delighted that the Council was presenting to the Committee. He apologised for arriving late as he was held up by logistical issues at the airport. He was sure that the General Secretary had covered all the relevant issues in her presentation.

The Chairperson congratulated the ELRC for the unqualified audit it received from the Auditor General saying there was an improvement in management. The Committee hoped that there would be years without industrial strikes as that was the overall target of the ELRC. This was achieved last year and it was hoped that this could continue.

Ms A Lovemore (DA) did not agree that there was a year without labour action. SADTU had marched last year and it was important to define what industrial action was. She asked for clarity about the goals around collective bargaining. The planned target was 8 but actual achievement was 5. How were these figures arrived at? She further asked for clarity and reasons why there had been increased spending on consulting fees and the sharp increase in the amounts used for the World Teachers’ Day.

Ms Foca replied that the ELRC had bargaining workshops on items to be concluded for the year. The issues identified were then put on the plan and this was where the figures were gotten from. Even the timing was informed by these management plans. This was one of the reasons which forced the ELRC to seek a legal opinion on how measurement could be done in terms of the putting of objectives dependent on the outcome of an engagement between two parties with different interests.

On the costs of the World Teachers Day, in the past the ELRC did not champion this event but last year, the Council had received a request from its parties to run the programme. On the costs related to consultancies, this was directly related to the high vacancy rate in the ELRC. The work done by service providers was the work that should be done by full time staff. However, this problem was now solved as the organogram had been restructured and vacancies were being filled.

Ms N Mashabela (EFF) asked what explanation was given for the 5% of learners not evaluated in Limpopo as it was a requirement that all learners be evaluated.

Mr K Khosa (ANC) commended the ELRC for the unqualified audit and said this was a good sign. He expressed hope that the Council will continue on this path. He further asked the Council to address the concern that it was asking to be delisted as this meant it wanted to be independent. What effect was this going to have on the finances and funding of the ELRC?

Ms Foca replied that the projections for the future indicated that the funds for the ELRC were not sustainable and could not support operations for the coming years. It was an anomaly for a bargaining council to be listed as a public entity. It was thus important to give the ELRC the independent status which it required to carry out its duties.

Ms J Basson (ANC) asked how the ELRC managed incentives to be given to educators. What was the status in terms of temporal educators? How did the ELRC address issues where it failed to achieve its agreements?

Ms Foca replied that the incentives were regulated by the policy declared by the Minister. The ELRC could only monitor the implementation of the policy and make recommendations to the Minister for consideration. The final decision was in the hands of the Minister. The ELRC only handled disputes relating to the implementation of the policy. On temporal educators, the ELRC tried to ensure that there was facilitation at national and provincial levels. There was need for a collective national framework on the issue.

Ms N Mokoto (ANC) inquired about the allegation that the ELRC had resolved a lot of cases only in terms of administrative and not the core issues affecting educators. How was the ELRC managing its relationship with the unions? Was there an inter-organisational relationship in place and how functional was this relationship?

The Chairperson asked if it was correct that it took the ELRC a whole year to appoint a Project Manager (PM).  If it was so, what were the reasons? In terms of the QMS agreements, what was the possibility in reaching agreements with the unions in the near future? On the issue of post provisioning, what was the state of affairs at provincial levels. She was interested in the partnership with the SOMAFCO Trust and wanted to know how this partnership benefitted schools and learners.

Ms Foca replied that the appointment of the PM took long because the ELRC was a public entity and had to comply with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) which required the authorisation from the Minister. This took over 12 months. On the QMS and the relation to the unions, the context of bargaining was complex and often a trade-off kind of situation where there were delays for signature. Post provisioning was regulated by the Act and Limpopo’s multi-term could be considered as best practice and the current manner of operation was sufficient. The SOMAFCO Trust had been running a competition in improving reading and writing. There was not much involvement by the ELRC but it just supported the initiative.

Adv Bono said the General Secretary had covered everything. It was however important to note there were many challenges on the ground as there was often lack of seriousness from parties. This was one of the reasons for the lack of achievement on certain targets.

Mr D Mnguni (ANC) said it was good that the AGSA had given the ELRC an unqualified audit but looking at the audit results of the audit done by the Audit Committee, there was still a lot to be done. What plan of action was in place to address these issues?

Ms Foca replied that the concern was what was preventing the ELRC from getting a clean audit. The main issue was the performance information reporting and the trends. There was an improvement and an AG Action Plan had been put in place to resolve the matters of emphasis. The ELRC was aiming for a clean audit in the future.

The Chairperson asked for clarity on the Employee Wellness Programme (EWP).

Ms Foca replied that the EWP was conducted by the various provincial offices and departments.

Mr Mnguni said there was a lot reported but not much was being seen on the ground. He commented that he did not know that the EWP existed and suggested that more publicity should be done in regards to these programmes.

Ms Foca replied that this was an important issue and it was something which the ELRC was going to take up with its provincial chambers.

The Chairperson said there was need for more coordination on the various activities in the education sector. There was so much input and activity but the output was not very visible as there was not sufficient General coordination. She thanked the ELRC for the presentation and said she looked forward to more interaction between the Committee and the ELRC.

The meeting was adjourned.  

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