Bambisa, who is at the helm of the regional office in the country’s economic melting pot, is a qualified tool and die maker who was appointed to the MEIBC as a designated agent in 2004. Five years later, he was promoted to a senior agent largely because, as he says, “I work hard and continuously perform at my best, and this has resulted in me being one of the Council’s high performers.” Most recently, Bambisa was nominated for, and awarded, the Technical Champion Award and Employee of the Year in 2011. “After nearly 10 years with the MEIBC, I was appointed Acting Regional Manager for the Gauteng office, which is also the largest region in the MEIBC,” reveals Bambisa. He believes that he hasn’t reached his life’s destiny yet. Perhaps, his destiny will be reached when he completes his studies for the Human Resources Legal Diploma. “My current goal is to develop a deeper relationship with my mentors, who will help me to learn more so that I can become a great leader within the organisation,” he states.
The regional manager then shifts the focus from himself and talks about his region. “The Gauteng regional office was faced with many operational challenges during the course of 2013. These included a change of managers and a climate fit enough to cause even the strong-minded to buckle,” says Bambisa. But the office stepped up to the challenges and every member of the team produced what was required of them.Being the biggest region in the Council means that a lot is expected of them. Bambisa has no intention of disappointing. “In the near future, we intend to see the Gauteng region being seen as the yardstick of excellence. We want to play a practical, and beneficial, role in order to contribute to the industry’s issues, such as those that threaten employment,” he declares. He explains that they are better placed to achieve this. “We are privileged in that we have direct and first contact with the industry in the country’s economic hub. This enables us to act at the first signs of instability.” He pledges that they will use all the tools at their disposal, as contained in the various industry agreements, to “empower the industry as far as possible to withstand the labour and economic challenges it faces”.
Eastern Cape Region
Horn, the Eastern Cape office regional manager, was the first black president of the MEIBC, and perhaps the youngest in 1999. Says Horn of his tenure as president of an organisation that he has served since he was an industry employee: “I had the rare privilege of leading a high-powered delegation of employers and unions on a study tour to five European countries. The purpose of the study tour was to investigate the countries’ grading systems.” In 2003, Horn decided to join the MEIBC on a full-time basis because of his passion for the organisation. He served as the deputy regional manager of the Northern Cape and Free State regions, and was later moved to his current role. He continues to excel and he also never intends to ‘drop the ball’. “We have increased our output to exceed the new 80% target. Further to that, we are firmly behind the vision of the MEIBC, and our team of achievers is full of innovative ideas that will take the Council into the future,” he shares.
Apart from being the custodian of the industry in the Eastern Cape, Horn encourages employee wellness and fitness for a productive team. The regional office installed a gym for the office staff and childcare facilities are provided for clients’ children. “We maintain good stakeholder relations and, in that way, the team spirit remains high. The Eastern Cape is proud that there is a consistent flow of communication within the region. In our daily activities, we will ensure that there is ongoing harmony in the workplace,” Horn points out. A future where all the MEIBC regions work hand in glove is but one of Horn’s visions. In line with the vision of the MEIBC, the regional manager intends to see to it that the goals as set out in the Siyanqoba Business Strategy are achieved. In addition, he wishes to see to it that, together with fellow regions, they tackle the challenges facing the industry head on. He believes that, with hard work and dedication, this can, and will, be done.
Newly appointed to his role in April 2013, Nxumalo, the manager of the Tshwane regional office, joined the MEIBC in 2006 and was appointed as the regional manager for Gauteng. He quickly begins to outline the journey that he has begun as regional head. “Our dispute resolution, compliance arbitrations and the support provided for clients, in terms of benefit fund claims, have all been a success beyond what we imagined,” he states. The Tshwane office attends to at least 160 walk-in clients on a daily basis. These clients come to claim their surplus benefits and/or to make claims on pension and provident funds. At this rate, Nxumalo is well on the way to achieve, “a superior service delivery” as envisioned at the beginning of the year. “As our focus this year has been on superior service delivery, we embarked on an office expansion that will ensure that the public we serve is well served in an environment that’s conducive for this,” he says.
“The Council’s visibility in the industry has also been noted owing to the intensive routine inspections done by Council agents.” The success stories of the Tshwane region do not, by any means, mean that the region will relax and ride on those. “We will raise the bar for ourselves and the Council. Improving on service delivery and ensuring that the Council adopts best practices around technology are issues that will occupy our efforts into the near future. This will enable our most important stakeholders, the public, to interact with the Council by means of technology.”
Free State and Northern Cape Region
In 2008, Le Fleur joined the Mpumalanga MEIBC office as an agent. Three years later, in October 2011, he was transferred to the Free State and Northern Cape region. “I represented both offices on the Employment Equity Committee from 2008 to 2013.” Le Fleur started off as the acting regional manager from April to August 2013, until his appointment to the post of regional manager in September 2013. He says that, despite various regional challenges and the appointment of a new manager, the region, in line with the National Strategic Plan, the Siyanqoba Business Strategy, has achieved its targets for the year. The strategy was launched by the MEIBC general secretary in February 2013.
“The Free State and Northern Cape region should lead the others with regard to industry compliance. My vision is to see the regional office growing its present employers and employees registered with the MEIBC. From a national perspective, I believe the MEIBC should conclude agreements that get buy-in from the industry, and the Council should play a more active role in assisting with scarce skills in the industry”. According to Le Fleur, the MEIBC is now partnering with the industry and is moving away from policing the industry. “The Council is more visible to the industry, particularly under the leadership of the general secretary. This has led to improved service delivery to the industry at large and our stakeholders have acknowledged these improvements,” he points out.
When Alberts joined the Council in 2007, she made history. She became the first woman in the history of the Council to be appointed in the capacity of regional manager. A woman in an industry that is still regarded as a male terrain was met with some scepticism, says Alberts. “However, the way we have performed has dispelled any myths as we work towards upholding the mission and vision of the Council without fear or favour,” she shares. The year 2013 brought with it many developments for the region, she observes. “Although we experienced staff movements, and, in some instances, positions have yet to be filled, the region still managed to achieve an overall score of 87%. ” Another stride that the office made is that, to date, the number of registered companies in their books have increased by 168. Client dispute resolution backlogs have been eliminated, and all cases are thus at various stages of resolution. The region is proud that the office deals with any given case within 30 days. Alberts singles out the appointment of Desmond Mnguni as a senior agent in the Richards Bay area. “His appointment has resulted in all the outstanding requests being dealt with, as well as in improved stakeholder relations. Mnguni is an asset to the satellite office,” she says. The KZN region is a force to be reckoned with, as all team members work towards achieving their goals, and, in the process, they assist those who are in need.
Unemployment, an issue that is faced by all of South Africa, is one that Alberts would like to tackle, going into the New Year. Youth unemployment is quite a problem in the outlying areas of Ezhakeni and Isithebe – a situation that is at odds with the fact that, according to her, there are state-of-the-art factories lying idle in the area. She reveals that they are engaging with the Durban Chamber of Commerce to find synergies which could assist its registered members. “The office is also working with the Department of Labour to jointly address non-compliance with industry agreements. This relationship is a positive step towards stability in the industry,” she notes. “We will continue to forge relationships with various bodies to ensure that the vision and mission of the Council are realised,” she assures.
Roman, who heads up the Cape region as regional manager, says there have been a number of achievements since she joined the MEIBC in 2008. “The region got rid of the backlogs that prevailed. These included the huge amount of trade union requests that were not attended to,” she says. The region implemented a clean-up system called Siyandiza, loosely translated to mean ‘We are flying’, in a quest to obtain a true reflection of the region’s work load. In Roman’s view, since 2009 to date, the region’s focus has been on the continuous improvement of the quality of work offered to clients. At the same time, “We have also sought to enhance our stakeholder relations.” She contends that, judging by the results already produced, the future is bright for the region. “We have achieved a lot, largely as a result of the contributions and dedication of our members of staff in engaging with our stakeholders,” she emphasises.
She adds that, thus far, they have engaged with stakeholders at least twice a year. In the stakeholder engagements, individual visits were also made to the offices of the various delegates. In conclusion, Roman notes that the period has not been without challenges, “But we were able to cross the hurdles”. This happened across many facets and positively affected not only the Cape region and the MEIBC in general, but also the industry as a whole. The year 2013 has been an eventful one for all the MEIBC regions. But, with capable leaders at the helm of each office, who have equally capable teams behind them, there is little doubt that the coming year is one that will also be filled with great things. Above all, with the drive of General Secretary Thulani Mthiyane at national head office, the MEIBC can only rise to the top as the epitome of a Council that is truly representative of the constituency it serves.
The Oldest Bargaining Council
• The MEIBC is a statutory body created in terms of the Labour Relations Act to provide for the co-regulation of stable and productive employment relations in the metal and engineering industries.
Greater than the Sum of its Parts
As a Council which proudly boasts of being the oldest bargaining council in South Africa, the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC) has a presence in all of the country’s regions. Each regional official is headed by a highly capable Council official and, together, they contribute to making the MEIBC an organisation that is greater than the sum of its parts. The regional heads share their regional experiences on the year that was 2013.
The MEIBC has six regional offices, namely: Gauteng, headed by Calvin Bambisa; Tshwane, led by Mxolisi Nxumalo; and Free State and Northern Cape, which are the responsibility of Jan Le Fleur. Joshua Horn oversees the Eastern Cape regional office, while Rade Alberts is the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) regional office head, and Ida Roman sits in the Cape regional office.
by Andrew Ngozo