Tag Archives: Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI).

THE CRUCIAL ROLE OF DISPUTE RESOLUTION IN CIVIL ENGINEERING SECTOR

In the realm of civil engineering, maintaining fairness and stability is paramount. To achieve this, effective dispute resolution is indispensable, and this is where the Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI) play a vital role in this sector.

Merle Denson, the Dispute Resolution Centre Manager at the BCCEI, stresses that dispute resolution is not only a means to solve conflicts but also a vital aspect of good business management. “It prevents conflicts from escalating, saving both time and money, and additionally, it offers an alternative to costly court proceedings,” she says.

The BCCEI’s Dispute Resolution Centre plays a central role in handling industry-specific disputes, and is accredited by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA). This ensures that disputes are efficiently resolved within legal parameters. The Dispute Resolution Centre boasts a panel of commissioners with deep industry knowledge and experience, guaranteeing expert handling of complex civil engineering issues. Moreover, it prioritises accessibility by scheduling cases regionally, minimising financial burdens and time constraints for parties.

Denson says that in addition to this and in response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dispute Resolution Centre also offers online dispute resolution services, enhancing efficiency and reducing costs.

The accessibility of the Dispute Resolution Centre’s services is ensured through a funding mechanism, where employers and employees contribute to the cost of dispute resolution via a monthly levy.

In dismissal cases referred to the Dispute Resolution Centre, the process involves referral, notice of hearing, conciliation, arbitration and potential settlement agreements. Commissioners and arbitrators, appointed by the BCCEI, are crucial in ensuring fair and efficient resolution.

“Effective dispute resolution is vital for the civil engineering industry’s stability and fairness, and the BCCEI and its Dispute Resolution Centre provide accessible, expert and efficient mechanisms for resolving industry-specific disputes, fostering a harmonious work environment,” Denson concludes. The BCCEI’s primary goals and objectives extend beyond dispute resolution as a bargaining council. Its responsibilities encompass concluding and enforcing collective agreements, preventing and resolving labour disputes, administering dispute resolution functions, establishing and managing funds for dispute resolution, promoting and initiating training and education schemes, developing proposals for labour policies and legislation, providing industrial support services and extending services to non-parties in the industry.

THE MUTUAL BENEFITS OF REGISTERING WITH THE BCCEI

Registration with the Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI) is not only compulsory but also incredibly advantageous for both companies and their employees. The operations manager at the BCCEI, Lindie Fourie, strongly believes that company registration promotes a more balanced and sustainable sector for all parties involved.

Lindie Fourie, Operations Manager at the Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI).
Lindie Fourie, Operations Manager at the Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI).

Membership with the BCCEI transforms a company into an active participant in the civil engineering industry. The BCCEI plays a pivotal role in facilitating collective bargaining concerning wages and general terms of employment, consequently leading to fairer outcomes for everyone involved.

Fourie underscores the advantage of this process, stating, “Being part of the BCCEI makes a company an active participant, able to leverage our national footprint and information sharing abilities including the opportunity, through party representatives, to lobby stakeholders in the industry.”

Collective bargaining outcomes benefit both employers, especially those lacking the resources for prolonged negotiations, and employees, who may not be adequately organised to present their demands at the company level. Not only does it facilitate a fairer outcome, but it also minimises disruptions in the working environment, allowing resources and energy to be channelled where most needed.

Furthermore, certain minimum allowances which employees are entitled to, under the conditions of employment for the civil engineering sector, often go unnoticed by both parties.

Fourie points out that registration with the BCCEI can help clarify these conditions, ensuring that both employers and employees understand their rights and obligations. In addition, this does lead to a levelling of the playing field in some respects encouraging contractors to compete fairly against each and end the practice of under cutting minimum wages in an attempt to secure contracts at the detriment of employees.

“Registration with the BCCEI presents an opportunity for companies to actively contribute to the civil engineering sector’s stability and sustainability. The mutual benefits for both employers and employees resulting from the BCCEI’s involvement cannot be overstated, making it a win-win for all,” Fourie concludes.

BCCEI CALLS FOR PARTNERSHIPS IN ROLLING BACK CONSTRUCTION CRIME

Taking an important step in addressing systemic extortion in the construction sector, the Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI) has signed the Anti-Corruption Pledge and set up a platform for joint action. 

Working in support of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) Minister Patricia de Lille’s and Special Investigating Unit Advocate Mothibi’s Infrastructure Built Anti-Corruption Forum, the BCCEI is calling on all affected parties to be part of a collaborative solution. 

“It has been encouraging to see government and media expressing growing concern about how the construction mafia is impacting South Africa’s future,” says BCCEI operations manager Lindie Fourie. “After many months of consultation and planning, the BCCEI has an action plan in place that reaches out to all parties involved.”

Construction sites have been disrupted country-wide by criminal gangs often presenting themselves as business forums. As far back as 2020, it was estimated that the resulting losses suffered by the economy had reached over R40 billion. Representing employers and employees in the civil engineering sector, the BCCEI has been proactive, says Fourie.

“In addition to engaging with our own stakeholders, we have put our full support behind the Infrastructure Built Anti-Corruption Forum set up by Minister De Lille and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU),” she says. “We are now looking forward to building practical partnerships to roll back the lawlessness that threatens our sector.”

She highlights that the minister called for a risk analysis focusing on key threats to the execution of projects. This would include identifying high priority projects where these risks were delaying successful completion. 

“Our action plan deliberately aligns with the efforts of government departments and agencies, so that the energy of all affected parties can be harnessed,” she says. “The focus has often been on the South African Police Service to do more about stemming this criminal activity; but the long-term solution really needs everyone’s involvement.”

She highlights that the BCCEI action plan includes macro level engagements with government, as well as support mechanisms at the micro level where construction projects are planned or being conducted. The BCCEI council has approved the appointment of a resource to co-ordinate input from project stakeholders including contractors, clients, employees and communities and offer guidance to contractors when sites are disrupted by construction mafia or communities. This will include working closely with the responsible persons within SAPS mandated to address extortion incidents. 

“To help our members to execute projects safely and smoothly, we are creating a centralised database with key contacts at regional and national level,” says Fourie. “This includes unions, government departments, police, private security, community leaders and even taxi associations.”

The BCCEI is also reaching out to credible specialists who may be able to assist in resolving site disruptions. At project level, she says the plan would see engagement between clients and contractors on how to systematically deal with criminal and other disruption. 

“The aim is to equip both parties with guidelines to prevent and respond to external interference – with the support of SAPS and a national policing strategic plan,” she says. “Importantly, we would like to see every project having contact details of a nominated mobile policing unit.”

Projects should also have local contacts in the trade unions, municipalities, emergency services and Department of Employment and Labour – who will be able to provide support. Fourie emphasised that it was not enough just to react to project interference; proactive steps need to be taken to prevent it. This, she says, needs to take place within a framework of acceptable behaviour that all parties formally accept. 

“Awareness needs to be built around the value that civil engineering projects are adding to communities, and community expectations must also be carefully managed,” she says. “Reacting to disruption will need more effective collaboration and intervention – with careful monitoring and recording of information on each incident.”

She is hopeful that momentum is building in the national response to construction mafia disruption and violence. The safety of employees on site remains the key concern. A key aim must be to create a stable environment where law-abiding communities and capable local sub-contractors can benefit fully from construction works, she explains.

JOINT ACTION NOW URGENTLY NEEDED TO HALT CONSTRUCTION MAFIA

Years of disruption by construction mafias in the civil engineering sector are holding back South Africa’s recovery, and all parties now need to throw their support behind efforts to eradicate this criminal scourge.

Lindie Fourie, operations manager at the Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI), says the problem of intimidation, extortion and violence on construction sites has reached crisis levels.

“We are encouraged by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent announcement of a special police unit to deal with the construction mafia, but it will need all stakeholders to give active support if this effort is to be successful,” says Fourie. “The BCCEI has developed an action plan to address the challenges in the civil engineering industry and we are reaching out to other players to ensure our response is collaborative.”

Key aspects of the plan include working with stakeholders to effectively prevent interference in projects, as well as reacting proactively to instances of interference, she says. She commended the various government bodies, industry associations and professional societies who have spoken out against the construction mafia, and called on all players to join hands in their responses.  

“With our members being both employees and employers, we have witnessed lives being threatened, ransoms demanded and people kidnapped as well as jobs lost when these criminal elements target important civil engineering projects – most of which are state-funded,” she says. “With government working hard on its economic reconstruction and recovery plan, the country cannot afford its investments in infrastructure to be hijacked by local mafias.”

She highlights that the delays and damage caused is stalling government’s job creation efforts, as infrastructure works are among the quickest ways to stimulate growth. With Treasury’s budget under strain following years of low growth and the Covid-19 pandemic, it cannot afford the cost of infrastructure to be further raised by criminal intimidation of contractors.

“Government infrastructure projects all include a range of constructive transformation measures, which are dutifully applied by contractors who legally win these projects,” says Fourie. “Mafias are undermining these worthy efforts and derailing crucial improvements to our roads, water, energy and other infrastructure – and holding back government’s service delivery.”

DISPUTES CONTINUE TO BE RESOLVED FOR CIVILS SECTOR

Settling disputes is a key aspect of maintaining fairness and stability in any sector, and the Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI) continues to render this vital service for the civil engineering industry. 

Through the BCCEI’s Dispute Resolution Centre (DRC), dispute referrals are resolved as quickly as possible to meet the accreditation standards of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), according to DRC manager Merle Denson.

“To ensure we achieve the best results, the BCCEI appoints highly rated commissioners and arbitrators who are accredited by the CCMA and hear cases under industry-specific standards and guidelines,” says Denson. “In addition, they are seasoned professionals with a solid understanding of the civil engineering sector.”

Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, cases have continued to be dealt with using all means possible including remote online facilitation via Video Conferencing, Zoom or Teams, she says. As an industry-based forum of organised business and labour, the BCCEI regulates employment conditions and labour relations in civil engineering – with the aim of fostering a stable and productive working environment. 

The DRC’s services are available to all firms in the sector, and to all scheduled and non-scheduled employees who fall within the BCCEI’s scope.

“The cost of using the BCCEI DRC is covered by the monthly dispute resolution levy paid by employers and employees,” she says. “So there is no additional cost for using the DRC, except when referring an Inquiry by Arbitrator (S188A) dispute.”

Denson highlights that, in all dismissal cases referred to the DRC, the applicant and respondent must first explore a process of conciliation to try to resolve the dispute amicably. 

“Where such a settlement cannot be reached, the case then goes to arbitration, if this is requested by the applicant or referring party,” she says. “The case is then arbitrated by an independent commissioner appointed by the BCCEI.”

In the arbitration process, she explains, the arbitrating commissioner hears both sides of the dispute. Based on the evidence that is led and the arguments that are made, the commissioner decides if the dismissal was procedurally or substantively fair, or not  – and issues an arbitration award. All arbitration awards are final and binding.

Denson notes that ‘statutory disputes’ around a range of different kinds of dismissal can be handled by the DRC. These include retrenchments (operational requirement disputes), incapacity due to ill health or  poor work performance and misconduct – as well as strike action, lock-out, unfair suspension, and severance pay. Among the advantages of the DRC’s service is that disputes in large projects can even be heard on site, for example, at the Medupi and Kusile Power Stations 

“On site dispute resolution can be conducted in long-term, multi-disciplinary projects where site agreements are applied,” says Denson. “This means significant savings in time and cost, while ensuring that the process is fully compliant.”

BETTER CONDITIONS FOR CIVILS EMPLOYEES UNDER BARGAINING COUNCIL

Registration with a bargaining council is indeed compulsory; but when a company registers, it benefits everyone. 

This is according to Lindie Fourie, operations manager at the Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI), who emphasises that both the employers and employees are definitely better off when the company registers.

“Being part of the BCCEI makes a company an active participant in a more stable and sustainable sector,” says Fourie. “This is mainly because the BCCEI facilitates collective bargaining on wages and general terms of employment, helping employers and labour to arrive at a fair outcome for all.”

The result of collective bargaining, she argues, is invariably of benefit to both employers, many of whom do not have the resources to deal with long term negotiations, and employees, who may not be sufficiently organised at plant or company level to present their demands. A fairer outcome for all also ensures that the general working environment is less disrupted, and the necessary energy and resources can be applied where required. 

There are also certain minimum allowances which employees are entitled to, which are part of the conditions of employment applicable to the whole civil engineering sector. In many instances, employers and employees are not aware of these, she notes.

She highlights that being registered with the BCCEI facilitates the situation where employers and employees can be assisted in understanding what conditions are applicable to them. An example would be where the BCCEI requires businesses to belong to the Construction Industry Retirement Benefit Fund (CIRBF). Many smaller companies do not make any retirement provisions for their staff, but the BCCEI ensures that they attend to this vital aspect of employee well-being. 

“Companies must also have a minimum funeral benefit in place for their employees,” she says. “Where business owners don’t have such schemes, there is an industry retirement benefit fund, medical aid and funeral benefits, although these are not administered by the BCCEI.” 

BARGAINING COUNCIL FOR THE CIVIL ENGINEERING INDUSTRY GETS GREEN LIGHT FROM CCMA

The ongoing success of the Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI) has led to its accreditation by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) being extended for another three and a half years.

“This is a great achievement, especially for a relatively young bargaining council and we are very proud,” says Merle Denson, dispute manager at the BCCEI. Denson notes that this is the second consecutive accreditation by the CCMA – demonstrating the BCCEI’s capacity to deliver on its mandate.

The CCMA’s accreditation allows the BCCEI to continue performing its dispute resolution functions, either by conciliation or – if the dispute remains unresolved – through arbitration. The green light from the CCMA follows the recent extension by the Minister of Labour of the BCCEI’s dispute resolution collective agreement, allowing its decisions to be binding on non-parties.

“The stringent accreditation process demands that we meet a range of targets and standards, as well as efficiency indicators, to ensure a standardised and optimal performance of our duties,” she says.

“Our services have consistently met CCMA standards in terms of targets like conciliation and arbitration turnaround times, zero late arbitrations awards, settlement rates and quality control measures.”

She says this shows that the dispute resolution centre of the BCCEI is “on the right track” as far as both the CCMA and the Labour Relations Act requirements are concerned. The CCMA’s latest accreditation will run from 1 April 2020 to 31 August 2023.

Detailed reporting of the BCCEI’s operations is required on a regular basis for various bodies, highlighting everything from the number of referrals, outcomes of processes, cases scheduled and analysis of the types of cases being referred. Reports also track specific efficiencies on a monthly basis.

“Reporting documents must be submitted to the CCMA each quarter, for instance,” says Denson. “We are constantly monitoring ourselves in terms of efficiency and performance through the statistics that the BCCEI system generates.”

Among the CCMA’s other requirements is that the commissioners used for conciliation and arbitration – who must be CCMA-accredited in their own right – are all independent and qualified. Their performance is also monitored by the BCCEI in line with a specific code of conduct.

Signatory parties to the BCCEI are the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Building Construction and Allied Workers Unions (BCAWU) from the trade unions, and the Consolidated Employers’ Organisation (CEO) and South African Forum of Civil Engineering Contractors (SAFCEC) from the employers.

BCCEI WAIVES LEVIES FOR APRIL AND MAY 2020 BRING RELIEF TO SECTOR

The Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI) took an unprecedented step in April 2020 when the Council announced that it would waive the BCCEI administration and dispute levy contributions for that month. In another move aimed at bringing much needed relief to an already ailing industry sector, the BCCEI has announced that this waiver will be extended to the month of May 2020.

This is a significant gesture as the BCCEI does not receive any grants or subsidies from the government and its only source of income is through the administration and dispute levies which is received from registered companies in the civil engineering industry. These levies are used for the running and day-to-day operations of this bargaining council.

BCCEI general secretary, Nick Faasen says that the Council decided on the step as it is fully aware of the situation in which both employers and employees find themselves at this time.

“Budgets and cash flow are under immense pressure following the declaration of the National State of Disaster and the subsequent implementation of the nationwide lockdown which was further extended. We acknowledge that many people in our sector will, in all probability, have a reduced income and we believe it is essential that we work together to find ways to reduce expenses, wherever possible,” Faasen says.

The BCCEI, representing two unions and two employer organisations, provides a range of valuable services to the civil engineering sector. Currently, the Council continues to operate through non-contact methods and remains committed to prompt service delivery to the industry.

BARGAINING COUNCIL FOR THE CIVIL ENGINEERING INDUSTRY GETS GREEN LIGHT FROM CCMA

The ongoing success of the Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI) has led to its accreditation by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) being extended for another three and a half years.

“This is a great achievement, especially for a relatively young bargaining council and we are very proud,” says Merle Denson, dispute manager at the BCCEI. Denson notes that this is the second consecutive accreditation by the CCMA – demonstrating the BCCEI’s capacity to deliver on its mandate.

The CCMA’s accreditation allows the BCCEI to continue performing its dispute resolution functions, either by conciliation or – if the dispute remains unresolved – through arbitration. The green light from the CCMA follows the recent extension by the Minister of Labour of the BCCEI’s dispute resolution collective agreement, allowing its decisions to be binding on non-parties.

“The stringent accreditation process demands that we meet a range of targets and standards, as well as efficiency indicators, to ensure a standardised and optimal performance of our duties,” she says.

“Our services have consistently met CCMA standards in terms of targets like conciliation and arbitration turnaround times, zero late arbitrations awards, settlement rates and quality control measures.”

She says this shows that the dispute resolution centre of the BCCEI is “on the right track” as far as both the CCMA and the Labour Relations Act requirements are concerned. The CCMA’s latest accreditation will run from 1 April 2020 to 31 August 2023.

Detailed reporting of the BCCEI’s operations is required on a regular basis for various bodies, highlighting everything from the number of referrals, outcomes of processes, cases scheduled and analysis of the types of cases being referred. Reports also track specific efficiencies on a monthly basis.

“Reporting documents must be submitted to the CCMA each quarter, for instance,” says Denson. “We are constantly monitoring ourselves in terms of efficiency and performance through the statistics that the BCCEI system generates.”

Among the CCMA’s other requirements is that the commissioners used for conciliation and arbitration – who must be CCMA-accredited in their own right – are all independent and qualified. Their performance is also monitored by the BCCEI in line with a specific code of conduct.

Signatory parties to the BCCEI are the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Building Construction and Allied Workers Unions (BCAWU) from the trade unions, and the Consolidated Employers’ Organisation (CEO) and South African Forum of Civil Engineering Contractors (SAFCEC) from the employers.