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

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.