Source: Jacaranda FM


The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) notes the deregistration of institutional subsidiaries of Education Investment Corporation (EduCor). The deregistered institutions include City Varsity, Lyceum, Damelin and ICESA City Campus colleges. These colleges flagrantly disregarded the labour practices established in this country, violating the rights of workers, and technically abusing them through incompetent managerial style. The Department of Higher Education had also highlighted failure to submit audited annual statements by Educor.

SAFTU demands the department not to dump students who were mid-way in pursuing their studies and the workers who worked at these institutions, from cleaners and security to lecturers and admin staff. The department must nationalize these colleges and absorb the workers permanently.

After all, public higher education institutions do not have the adequate capacity to absorb matriculants and learners who want to pursue further education and training. It is only befitting to nationalise these institutions (Educor institutions) as part of expanding its capacity. This is in addition to our demand that they build new colleges and universities

This comes after an investigation into these colleges was launched by the Dept of Higher Education, to probe the failure of Educor’s failure to submit audited annual statements, course accreditation and compliance, and the inability to pay their staff members.

Lecturers and other categories of workers across Educor institutions approached SAFTU in 2023 after they were mistreated by the subsidiaries of Educor, namely CTC, Damelin, Lyceum and ICESA. Of many issues workers submitted to SAFTU, they highlighted that:

  1. Late payment of wages/salaries had become a norm. This problem continued despite us writing to them and making public appeals for this to end. The proof is found in the fact that they paid December 2023 and January 2024 salaries on the 7th of February.

They only paid workers rightly in February when they realised that the Department of Higher Education had launched a probe into them.

  • Most lecturers at Damelin College were employed permanently before Covid-19. During Covid-19, they were retrenched and immediately rehired, but this time on fixed-term contracts. These workers have been put on fixed-term contracts since late 2020.

This practice violated section 198B of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) which provides for employees who are employed on fixed-term contracts to be deemed permanent if the contracts are extended longer than 3 months. Damelin College meets all conditions provided by the section for the clause to be applicable.

  • The workers especially at Damelin were not given (or compensated for) any tools of trade, including things as basic as textbooks.

The workers were not given (or compensated for) any tools of trade, including things as basic as textbooks. Only a limited number of textbooks are bought, and those lecturers who cannot get one must provide their own.

In addition, data and laptops were not provided by the employer. This is even though no lecturers can function without a laptop.

  • The workers’ grievances were handled with utter unprofessionalism and arrogance. Each time workers raise complaints about late payments and other grievances, they were told they could leave the company if they were not satisfied.

The proponents of privatisation tell us that privatisation makes services better, cheaper, and that private ownership is accountable and efficient. Educor has proven that all these are myths. The chronic understaffing at Damelin and its sister colleges, the incompetence and poor management that resulted in unfair labour practice, late payment of employees and the eventual bankruptcy, are proof that the private sector is not the paragon of efficiency.

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