the Communications Manager while Nomsa Mofokeng forms part of the team in her capacity as the Human Resources Manager.
Continuing With the Good Work
Mthiyane assumed the position of the General Secretary in 2012 after having been in the structures of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) in various capacities, both regionally and nationally. “My mandate is to continue with the good work already done by my predecessors, who set high standards by doing an exceptional job and deliver on the expectations of the collective,” shares Mthiyane. “However, we shall continue to transform the Council and ensure that it serves its constituency with diligence and with a commitment to excellence.” Foremost on Mthiyane’s plate is dealing with the perception that the Council is the ‘policeman’ of the industry while in reality it’s more than just a watchdog. The General Secretary notes that while compliance with the main agreement signed at industry level is paramount, the Council primarily strives to ensure that the industry competes fairly, both locally and globally. “My vision for the Council is to go beyond just adding value to both business and labour; to ensuring that collective bargaining is sustainable.” Mthiyane also intends to address issues relating to employers and employees in small companies where it is often not easy for the employee to engage with the employer. In such instances neither of the two parties is involved with the labour unions and, essentially, they lack a voice. “This voice can only be heard if both parties are accommodated within the arrangements of a bargaining council,” he says.
Executing with Expedience
Ngonyama, is a qualified employment relations practitioner, who joined the Council in 2006 and was appointed to his current role in February 2013. He has nearly two decades’ worth of experience in a field; starting off as a labour and wages inspector in terms of the Wage Act of the then Transkei. Before finding his ‘spot in the sun’ at the MEIBC, Ngonyama was with the national Department of Labour based in its head office in Pretoria. In this role he was responsible for the administration work of bargaining councils and labour market institutions in the registrar’s office. “My role is largely related to the work that I did as the regional manager in that it is merely an extension of the responsibilities that I used to have,” says Ngonyama. He elaborates that this entails unpacking and giving meaning to the strategic plan and its objectives as set out by the General Secretary. Ngonyama then has to communicate these to all the regions while concomitantly ensuring the successful implementation thereof.
Part of the vision involves achieving the Council’s visibility to South Africa and industry by having at least 80% of the 10 000 odd companies in the sector having engaged with a Council agent by February 2014, reveals Ngonyama who is mindful of the need to make sure that the services rendered to these companies are up to standard. Core to Ngonyama’s duties are dispute resolution among parties, compliance in all its forms, and the establishment and administration of a benefits fund for the Council’s members. All these, he points out, are tasks that have to be executed expediently all the time. In the medium- to long-term, Ngonyama hopes to realise a scenario where any member of the Council, anywhere in South Africa, will have the assurance that any issue they bring to the Council’s attention is guaranteed of a quality response within a particular time. How will such a nationwide task be done? “The Council is in the process of creating and updating its databases so that any, and every, company in the industry is within our sights. We have started on a programme where we have linked up with experts who will monitor all companies that either come into or exit the MEIBC’s jurisdiction,” says Ngonyama. All the current and accurate information will then be loaded onto the MEIBC’s system “to render it credible and allow for the industry at large to better plan for its work daily, weekly, monthly and yearly”.
Towards Creating a Bargaining Councils Benchmark
The year 2013 is a signifier of the times for the MEIBC. With the year came new people all set for a better Council. Hlutwa, the Communications Manager joined the MEIBC in January just as the General Secretary launched the Siyanqoba Business Strategy (SBS). Hlutwa explains that it is her mandate to see that the Council delivers on the SBS which is being implemented in phases. “The first phase was to put together the strategy,” says Hlutwa. “Then the implementation of the strategy around the country kicked in and that is what has been largely occupying me and my team, in recent months”. She elaborates that additionally ensuring the visibility of the MEIBC – which is the oldest bargaining council in South Africa - is paramount to her. The Council turns 75-years-old in 2014 and Hlutwa reveals that it will publish a special book to commemorate this. The book will be a collation of the Council’s existence but will also address critical areas such as job creation. “The book is a build up to the industry conference that we will host in Johannesburg in January 2014. One of the outcomes of the conference will be to ensure that the South African metal and engineering industries are positioned in a manner that will enable them to compete with the best in the world,” she expounds. Participants and speakers at the conference will include academics, industry experts, business and most of all labour.
Delving deeper into what the conference will focus on, Hlutwa says part of the discussions will revolve around the sustainability of the industry in general and that of the MEIBC in particular. “This will be an important discussion in light of the fact that the Council’s vision is ‘To Sustain Collective Bargaining through Administering and Ensuring Compliance with Industry Standards’.” According to Hlutwa the MEIBC, in the very near future, will launch an online library that will serve as an information hub about the Council and the sector. The online library will be accessible to the extent that users can also access the information by means of the MEIBC website.It has been a very busy first few months for Hlutwa who shares that the MEIBC also launched an informative newsletter called ‘First Hand ‘ which, distributed to at least 13 000 distributors, will keep all stakeholders informed about the industry and, above all, set all the players on a path towards improving industry benchmarks. A staff year book which will accompany an MEIBC staff conference later in 2013, will showcase the achievements thus far, she reveals. Busy as she has been, Hlutwa’s work has only just begun. It is her vision that through forging relationships and partnerships with important stakeholders, the MEIBC can grow by at least 10% in 2014.
The MEIBC as an Employer of Choice
Fellow executive committee member Mofokeng, the Human Resources Manager is a “seasoned human resources professional with substantial experience in both management and executive levels from various multinational companies.” Mofokeng has been featured in a number of publications, most notably Africa’s Most Influential Woman in Business and Government. She brings to the MEIBC her international experience to “position the MEIBC as an employer of choice by making sure that it attracts, motivates and retains talent which will help the organisation to maximise the performance of its employees and achieve the Council’s strategic objectives,” she points out. Mofokeng has been working behind the scenes to contribute significantly “to positioning the Human Resources Department as a change agent that supports Council initiatives at a strategic and transformational level.” She elaborates: “Previously, the role of Human Resources within the Council was limited to recruitment, leave administration and payroll transactions. Now, its role has been elevated to focus on progressive and transformational activities with priorities such as talent management, compensation and benefits, leadership and organisational capability development as well as employee relations”.
A strategy is already in place to realise the human resources department and the MEIBC’s short-term and long-term goals, asserts Mofokeng. “We have put together a comprehensive and hands-on human resources strategy to achieve our objectives and our mid-year reviews indicate a commendable progress to date,” she states. It is apt that a third of the MEIBC exco is female, observes Mofokeng. The Council has, on its own, progressed significantly in empowering women. “We currently have over 36% females in leadership positions and, for the first time, at least two female executives. This is certainly not the end of the journey as we will continue to strive towards a competent and diverse workforce,” notes Mofokeng with the advice to fellow women that: “They should continue to ‘stand up and be noticed’ by deliberately ‘choosing competency over being liked’ and be impactful in the roles they occupy”.
Towards Financial Stability
Molemoeng, the Finance and Administration Manager, a chartered accountant (CA) who boasts a broad spectrum of experience from various sectors, ensures a responsible approach to the MEIBC’s finances. He says this will allow the Council to spend money efficiently and effectively by getting the most value out of each rand spent. “Further to this, my mission is to ensure that the money we spend as a Council achieves its financial and non-financial objectives,” he maintains. A service oriented approach will be a cornerstone of the Council’s efforts henceforth. In this regard, Molemoeng elaborates, the point of departure is the establishment of a national call centre that will be affordable and accessible. He admits that presently, the Council is not easily reachable to its members on a first attempt basis; a situation which cannot be allowed to continue. Molemoeng contends that the future of the Council is closely embedded with the future of collective bargaining in South Africa. However, the economic dynamics and the evolution of new technologies may factor into the collective bargaining space. Molemoeng believes that as long as employers and employees see the value of bargaining, then collective bargaining will continue to strive in South Africa.
“From the Council’s perspective we need to ensure that we derive value on behalf of our stakeholders all the time. This, we will do with absolute fairness with no preference of one group over another. This is a measure that will go a long way towards realising the stability that we desire,” declares Molemoeng. A stable industry is one that creates jobs, yields value for investors and is one that generates value for employees whereas an unstable one is a result of the failure of collective bargaining. A little over a year ago, the Council had no stable management, says Molemoeng but the tide has turned with the appointment of the General Secretary, the MEIBC is steadily on a path to achieve stability. The MEIBC executive committee is made up of a dynamic set of individuals, each with a distinctive set of skills and expertise. Yet, put together, these individuals form a formidable team that’s ready to tackle any and all challenges that a thriving bargaining council may face along the way to ‘To Sustain Collective Bargaining through Administering and Ensuring Compliance with Industry Standards’.
The Industry's Guide
The Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council is a statutory body created under the Labour Relations Act (LRA) to provide for the co-regulation of stable and productive employment relations in the metal and engineering industries.
It provides the necessary administrative infrastructure and technical expertise to ensure effective collective bargaining, industry compliance, dispute resolution and social protection services.
The Council seeks to ensure stable and sound relationships between labour and business in the industry by serving all stakeholders with commitment, fairness and integrity.
Part of its mandate is to educate stakeholders in the effective implementation and maintenance of agreements and where appropriate, implement value added training and development.
An EXCO of Excellence
The members of the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC) executive committee (exco) are as unique and dynamic as the organisation and clientele that they serve. Each, carved from a different mould, brings an equally unique set of qualifications and expertise that, put together, are excellence personified.
Six members make up the top echelons of South Africa’s oldest bargaining council with Thulani Mthiyane as the General Secretary, Johan Van Der Walt, the Compliance Manager, Vice Ngonyama, Acting Operations General Manager and Humphrey Molemoeng fulfilling the role of Finance and Administration General Manager. Perhaps the most notable inclusion in the MEIBC exco is two dynamic women who have defied stereotypes to ensure they not only take the Council in a new direction but also thrive in a sector which is still largely regarded as a male domain. Monki Hlutwa is
by Andrew Ngozo