Prioritising training

The training of workers in new skills is a priority. If your company has done nothing on training, then read training sector co-ordinator, Malebo Mogopodi ‘s advice on how you can change this in 2004.

What do you want shop stewards to do around training?

If there are more than 50 workers in their workplace, then they must ensure that there is a training committee. Even if there are less than 50 workers, they still have a right to come together with their employer to decide on a training programme, provider, everything to do with training. Training committees must account to their shop steward committee in the plant.

What are you going to do to help shop stewards around training issues?

We are trying to identify training representatives and shop stewards per company and then we will run workshops in locals and regions. We will take comrades through the whole process of setting up a training committee, the functions of a training committee, identifying a skills development facilitator, choosing a training provider, how to implement the programme that you have decided on, developing a workplace skills plan up to where the company claims the grant and showing them the forms that they are supposed to sign. We will also tell them about learnerships and mandatory and discretionary grants. We are going to ensure that our training representatives and our local organisers are at the cutting edge of training and development and are able to engage in training issues as militantly as they do in other areas. This is a skills revolution that was put in motion by Numsa. It is thus Numsa that has to lead this revolution for the benefit of its members.

Does the training representative have to be a shop steward?

Yes, according to Numsa. I think the reason is to ensure accountability to constitutional structures.

If a new shop steward is alone in a factory and wants to set up the training committee before the workshops, who is the best person for him/her to contact?

The local organiser, in fact the local organiser should also sit on the training committee. Or they can contact their regional office and if that fails they can contact me in head office. Regional organisers and educators have been assisting a lot in ensuring that we put these systems in place.

What do you think is the key to a successful training shop steward or training committee?

The training shop steward or committee must represent and report back to workers. We need to ensure that training forms part of mainstream activities of the union. We cannot afford a situation where a worker is able to represent the members effectively around wages or health and safety but when it comes to issues of training, s/he is not in a position to go and challenge the employer.

The Merseta has SDFs working with small companies to help them develop workplace skills plans. Are those SDFs consulting with workers or is the employer just sitting with the SDF and then going to workers to get them to rubber stamp the plan?

We sometimes get that feedback that the SDF doesn’t consult with workers. In other cases they do. If shop stewards are in small companies, they must take responsibility and find out who is the SDF in their companies. When we have enough information to say that a particular SDF employed for small companies is not consulting with workers, then we have a right to lodge a formal complaint. They are not there to service employers only. They are also supposed to service workers.

What training is possible?

The Merseta which covers most Numsa members, has now registered 81 learnerships. Learnerships are a new system of vocational and workplace training open to both employed and unemployed workers. They combine a structured learning programme (theory) and practical work. Learnerships are meant to lead to a qualification as they are registered with the South African Qualification Authority and the Department of Labour. Companies can claim from the Merseta’s Discretionary Grants if they train workers on these learning areas. The money next to these learning areas is paid to the employer. If a worker does ABET training, s/he will also get paid on completion of the course.

Apprenticeships and ATRAMI – R 20 500
Apprenticeships (Time Based and CBMT) – R20 500
Skills Programmes – R 5 000
Experiential Training – R 20 000
HIV/Aids – R 100
IT – R 800
RPL Assessor Training – R 700
RPL Section 28 – R250
Safety Health Environment – R 400
Learnerships: Male – R 8 000
Learnerships: Female – R 10 000
Learnerships: Unemployed – R 16 240
ABET: To company for male – R 2 500
ABET: To company for female – R 3 000
ABET: To company for disabled – R 3 500
ABET: To learner per area – R 250
ABET: To learner per level – R 500

Merseta contact numbers:
Head Office:
011 492 1533
E Cape :
041 487 2407
Free State and Northern Cape :
051 430 1263
Gauteng and North West
011 832 2604/5
KwaZulu Natal:
031 309 3042
Mpumalanga :
013 692 4616/7
Western Cape:
021 948 6606