Retrenchments: What is the correct procedure?

Retrenchments are an aspect of business that many employers hope is never a reality for their businesses. With unpredictable markets, a slow-growing economy, the effects of COVID-19 and increased competition, many companies are having to implement retrenchments in order to remain open and profitable.

Employers often do not understand that several procedures need to be followed when retrenching employees in order to ensure that the retrenchment is fair. These legal requirements are outlined in the Labour Relations Act (LRA) and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA);  the onus is on the employer to follow the correct procedures. If these procedures are not conducted effectively and correctly, you could end up at the Centre for Dispute Resolution or even the Labour Court, which could bear a heavy price. We examine the procedures for fair retrenchments in more detail below.

What are retrenchments and when to consider them?

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In order to understand the retrenchment process, we need to define retrenchments. A retrenchment is a form of dismissal due to no fault of the employee. Section 213 of the Labour Relations Act defines operational requirements as “requirements based on the economic, technological, structural or similar needs of the employer”. More often than not, when a business is in financial distress, an employer would dismiss employees due to its operational requirements. Below we define these operational requirements in more detail:

  • Economic requirements – in general terms, “economic requirements” refers to the ability to make a profit or to retain sufficient funds to continue operations. These reasons may not relate to the business’s current financial state, but may refer to its projected financial circumstances. In this case, a company is often no longer in a financial position to employ all its current employees.

  • Technological requirements – these requirements often refer to the introduction of new technologies, systems and techniques that reduce the need for labour and make certain jobs redundant. Examples of these include innovative machinery, computer packages and electronic systems. These technological advances often result in the faster completion of tasks and reduce the need for the number of employees needed to perform operations.

  • Structural requirements – these requirements often relate to the need to flatten the management structure in relation to challenges or progress within the workforce. In this case, positions become redundant when structural changes need to be made. These changes are then reflected in the business’s organogram or organisational chart.

It is essential to note that an employer needs to provide fair reasons and genuine operational requirements for the retrenchments in order for them to be considered honest, just and in good faith. An employer cannot use a retrenchment as a way to dismiss undesirable employees.

Correct and fair retrenchment procedure

As mentioned above, it is imperative that the retrenchment process is fair. To ensure this, an employer will need to follow the procedural guidelines and proposed method for retrenchments outlined in Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act as well as Sections 35, 37 and 41 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. This process has been outlined in the steps below:

  1. Consultation

The employer will need to first provide written notice of the proposed retrenchment plans and invite the consulting employees/party to consult with it on this matter. The written document will need to include all relevant information related to the proposed dismissals.

The employer and employees will then consult with each other with the aim of coming to an agreement. This consultation process refers to a joint consensus-seeking process between the employer and the employees or employee representatives. This process must take place as soon as the employer contemplates retrenchment with:

  • Any person the employer is obliged to consult in terms of a collective agreement;

  • If there is no collective agreement, a workplace forum;

  • If there is no workplace forum, a registered trade union whose members are likely to be affected or

  • the employee/s likely to be involved and affected

The process of consultation aims to provide solutions that aim to:

  • avoid the dismissals (examples of solutions could include adjusting working hours, eliminating temporary labour, eliminating overtime, offering early retirement, etc.);

  • minimise the number of dismissals;

  • adjust the timing of the retrenchment;

  • provide ways to lessen the effects of the retrenchment;

  • provide information on the method for selecting the employees to be dismissed; and

  • discuss severance pay options.

  1. Disclosing information in writing

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The second step of the retrenchment process requires the employer to give written notice to the employees or their representatives that discloses all relevant information. This includes:

  • a valid reason for the proposed retrenchments;

  • the alternatives considered by the employer to avoid the retrenchments and the reasons why these were rejected;

  • the number of employees that will be affected as well as their job categories;

  • the selection criteria that will be utilised for selecting employees;

  • the timing of the dismissals;

  • the proposed severance pay;

  • what assistance the employer will offer the employees who have been retrenched (examples of this could include offering employees time off to attend interviews, an early release should a new job be found, issuing letters of reference, etc.); and

  • the possibility of future re-employment.

During this process, the consulting employees may request the employer to disclose more information if they feel that the information provided is not sufficient.

  1. Opportunity for feedback 

Once the information has been submitted in writing, the employer must give the consulting employees the opportunity to make presentations that must be considered and responded to.

  1. Criteria for selection

The criteria for selecting employees for retrenchments need to be fair and objective. In many cases, the employer may turn to the accepted selection criteria outlined by the CCMA’s Code of Good Practice on dismissal based on Operational Requirements. This code includes criteria based on “last in,  first out” (LIFO), the length of service, performance, skills and qualifications. Each of these elements must be examined when selecting employees for retrenchment.

It must be mentioned that the above process is for small-scale retrenchments of a business with fewer than 50 employees. The procedure for larger-scale retrenchments, where the employer has more than 50 employees, has been adapted in accordance with Section 189A of the Labour Relations Act, which can be viewed here.

Payment packages types and how to calculate them 

Payment packages are often an area of concern for both employers and employees, which is why there are guidelines contained in the BCEA for different payment packages related to retrenchments. These include:

  • Severance pay –  Employees should be paid at least one week’s remuneration for each completed and continued year of service. In this case, remuneration includes the employee’s basic salary, payment in kind and discretionary payments related to performance and working hours. Should an employee unreasonably refuse an offer of alternative employment, he/she will not be entitled to a severance package, according to Section  41(4) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act).

  • Leave pay – all outstanding leave is to be paid out; this includes annual leave or time off that has not been taken.

  • Notice pay –  If employed for less than six months, one week’s notice pay must be paid to the employee. If employed for more than six months but not more than one year, two weeks’ notice pay must be paid to the employee. If employed for more than a year, four weeks’ notice must be paid to the employee. The employer may require employees to work/not to work during the notice period.

  • Ex gratia payment – a collective agreement may stipulate ex gratia payments, over and above the severance pay upon the retrenchment of employees.

Legal consequences for unfair retrenchments

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If an employee feels that they have been unfairly retrenched and that they may have a case for unfair dismissal, they are able to approach the CCMA or a Bargaining Council and dispute the retrenchment. Retrenchment cases will need to be submitted within 30 days of the retrenchment. If this process is unsuccessful, the employee/s can then refer this matter to the Labour Court.

If it is found that the retrenchment process was unfair or if the correct procedure was not followed, the Labour Court can require the employer to rehire the employee or compensate the employee with 12 months’ remuneration. On the other hand, where it is found that the actual reason for the retrenchment was based on any form of discrimination such as race, religion, sexual orientation etc., the compensation amount can be as much as 24 months of remuneration.

Conclusion

Retrenchments have a significant impact on employees and a business as a whole, especially in a country like South Africa where the unemployment rate is so high. In order for the rights of retrenched to be protected, the legal aspects of the retrenchment process, as outlined by the Labour Relations Act and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, must be adhered to and appropriate measures are taken. These measures are in place to protect employees, reduce job losses and ensure that businesses comply with the law. If retrenchments are conducted unfairly and not as per the outlined procedures, the company will be penalised and negatively impacted.

For access to more information related to labour law and retrenchments, sign up to our SEIFSA resources portal.

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Automotive industry’s future to feature prominently at BRICS Manufacturing Conference

JOHANNESBURG, 25 MARCH 2021 – The Inaugural BRICS Manufacturing Conference, which takes place in Sandton, Johannesburg tomorrow, is the culmination of months of preparation and a commitment to be part of efforts to revive the struggling manufacturing sector in South Africa by promoting trade and investment within the BRICS grouping.
The conference, which will be held at the IDC Conference Centre, is the BRICS Business Council’s Manufacturing Working Group’s (MWG) contribution to reinforcing the Council’s proposed recommendations to Governments in relation to the manufacturing sector. The recommendations, which are detailed in the BRICS Business Council’s 2020 annual report, include the sharing of best practice in electromobility solutions, with the hope of promoting co-operation and investment among the BRICS member countries.
Mikel Mabasa, CEO of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa, will share his insights on electromobility solutions at the conference. He has previously said that sales of electric vehicles are forecast to exceed those of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2038.
It is hoped, therefore, that the session will spark interest among players in the automotive industry, who stand to benefit from this development if, with the support of the Government, they are able to position themselves in this space.
MWG Chairman Kaizer Nyatsumba said South Africa cannot afford to be left behind in electromobility advancement. He said the global transformation to electrical vehicles will potentially result in job losses as demand for fuel emission vehicles wane.
“Our automotive industry is one the few success stories within the manufacturing industry. We need to ensure that we remain at the forefront of developments in that industry to remain relevant. Therefore, it is important that we share ideas on how to position ourselves as leaders in electrical vehicle manufacturing. The BRICS Manufacturing Conference is a good place to start that conversation,” he said.


What is a standard employment contract?

In South Africa, it is a legal requirement that everyone you employ, as an employer, has a written employment contract. The employment contract outlines the conditions of employment and includes information with regards to the following circumstances: what is expected from the employee, annual leave, job title, hours of work, remuneration and more.

In the Main Agreement, this is not so, unless it is a Limited duration contract in which the Main Agreement serves as the outline. However, we do strongly recommend that employees be given a contract to encourage clarity and give certainty.
We examine what an employment contract is, the advantages for both the employee and the employer and do’s and don’ts for drafting an employment contract in more detail below.

What is an employment contract?

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In simple terms, an employment contract falls within the scope of commercial contracts, hence it needs to be in writing. An employment contract is an agreement between the parties (employer and employee) and serves as the primary evidence relied upon to enforce the parties’ contractual rights.

An employment contract regulates the terms and conditions of employment between the employer and the employee. It includes information on what the employer will provide and specifies what the employee is entitled to in relation to company policy, benefits and labour legislation for the specific work performed.

The employment contract is governed by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) and is required by law to be presented to the employee no later than the first day of commencement of employment. An employment contract needs to be agreed upon in the form of written consent.

There is no such requirement in the Main Agreement as explained above.

It is important to note that there are different types of employment contracts that relate to the employment being offered. Each of these types of employment, which include permanent, fixed-term, probation and project employment, have been set out in the Labour Relations Act, 2014 (Act No. 6 of 2014) (LRA) and relate to the way in which employees will be employed. These include:

  • Permanent employee: A permanent employee is employed for an undetermined period of time at their place of work. A contract of employment for an undetermined period of time has no agreed date of notice of termination (except retirement age). Such a contract is terminated by either the employer (dismissal) or the employee (resignation) on notice.

  • Part-time employees: A part-time employee is a person compensated based on the period of time s/he works (the hours s/he works), which is less than the period of time the employer’s permanent employees work.

  • Fixed-term employee: A fixed-term employee, also known as a temporary employee, is a person employed for a determined period of time. This is usually no more than three months of employment. A contract of employment for a determined period of time has an agreed date of termination, being either a specific calendar date or the occurrence of a specific event.

The Main Agreement has specific rules on Fixed Term Contracts, called Limited Duration Contracts, which take precedence over the LRA in this specific area.

What elements are included in an employment contract?

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When drafting an employment contract, several material issues need to be considered. These are often referred to as essentiala (essential elements), and they must be present in the contract for the contract to be legally sound. These essential elements would typically be the rendering of services by the employee for remuneration paid by the employer. It would also include job description, non-disclosure of trade secrets, compensation, normal payment, etc. If these essential elements are not contained in a contract, the contract could be void due to vagueness and, therefore, be unenforceable.

An employment contract also usually includes additional clauses, which are often referred to as naturalia. These provisions would relate to leave, overtime, termination of employment, sick leave cycle, maternity leave, incapacity and deductions. Included in these clauses would be a section on the family responsibility leave days available. These provisions include if the employee’s child is born, if the employee’s child or adopted child is sick, as well as the death of the employee’s spouse or life partner, the death of the employee’s parent, adoptive parent, grandchild, grandparent, or sibling.

The naturalia section would highlight all the specifics regarding what would happen in the case of an illness, such as the need to bring a medical certificate from a medical practitioner to work on the day of an employee’s return. This applies if the employee is off work for more than two consecutive days or if s/he  has been absent on more than two occasions in an eight-week period, as highlighted in Section 23 of the BCEA. It also specifies the remuneration for employees working on official public holidays, such as New Year’s Day, and Sundays.

The Main Agreement also refers to having to produce a sick note on Mondays and Fridays, and before and after public holidays.

All of the elements mentioned in the naturalia section are legal requirements that are governed by either employment legislation (BCEA) or a collective agreement in a particular sector (such as the Main Agreement for the Metals Industry). These provisions naturally find application in employment contracts by law and serve as the bare minimum and cannot be “contracted away”. It will always benefit both parties to include these provisions since they express inclusion.

Why is it important to draft an employment contract?

The main objective of drafting an employment contract is to ensure that both the employee and the employer know what is expected of them. In this way, both parties are protected against any breach or unlawful action relating to the conditions of employment.

An employment contract also protects the employer. If all the company’s policies, disciplinary codes, etc., are included in the contract, the employee will have all the information necessary to ensure that s/he adheres to those standards and requirements. In the same way, the employee is protected by having all elements related to employment included in the contract, meaning that the employer cannot take advantage or act unlawfully towards the employee.

Our SEIFSA Employment Contract Do’s and Don’ts

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Drafting a sound and enforceable contract takes a considerable amount of skill and understanding of employment law and complex substantive contract law. However, employment contracts do need to be drafted with employment legislation in mind and to comply with relevant statutory prescriptions. It is essential that an employment contract is clear, has a logical structure and incorporates the rules of best practice.

To make the process of drafting an employment contract a little simpler, we have put together a list of Do’s and Don’ts below.

Employment Contract Do’s:

  • Do start with a generic form as a guide and adapt it to your particular situation and make sure to address issues prescribed by employment legislation, such as working hours, leave, deduction of monies and salary or wage.

  • Do title the document “EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT” so that there can be no mistake as to its intent.

  • Do make sure the parties are properly identified in the first paragraph, that names are spelt correctly and that addresses are accurate.

  • Do date the contract on the day it was signed and indicate where it was signed. If the parties sign on different dates, the date of the contract will be the date when the last party signs. Also, include the date of commencement of employment (and termination date if the contract is temporary in nature).

  • Do use common-sense headings to make it easier to find particular provisions in the contract.

  • Do number the paragraphs for ease of reference.

  • Do use plain language whenever possible.

  • Do define all technical terms.

  • Do consider the placement of punctuation marks, since even a misplaced comma can change the meaning of a sentence.

  • Do carefully review the use of conjunctions, especially “and” and “or,” since the word you choose can have a dramatic impact on meaning, and preferably draft your contract in the active voice.

  • Do make sure that the contract addresses all possible contingencies and that nothing is left to chance.

  • Do have your SEIFSA IR and Legal expert review every contract before you sign it.

  • Do ask your SEIFSA IR and Legal expert any questions you may have about the contract — remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question, but it can be stupid to let a question go unasked and unanswered and pay for it later.

  • Do initial every page of the contract and make sure the other party does the same so that nothing is missed.

  • Do include notarisation, if required by applicable law.

  • Do retain a copy of the contract for your records.

Employment Contract Don’ts:

  • Don’t include legalese or archaic phrases like “the party of the first part”, “heretofore,” etc. They generally add little in terms of clarity.

  • Don’t include overly long sentences; instead, break sentences down into easily digestible thoughts.

  • Don’t be repetitive – unless it is absolutely necessary to do so. It is preferable to refer back to a previous provision according to its number or heading, rather than to repeat it verbatim.

  • Don’t assume the other party defines terms the way you do. If there is any doubt, include a definition in the contract.

  • Don’t read the contract hurriedly. It takes time to understand all the possible nuances of the language used.

  • Don’t accept the other party’s oral explanation of a confusing term. Include everything in writing.

  • Don’t start acting according to the terms of the contract until both parties have signed it.

  • Don’t agree to a modification of the contract without getting it written and signed by both parties.

  • Don’t assume that the use of a standard or form contract eliminates the need for your lawyer’s review. Even if a standard contract worked well in one instance, a change of circumstances, date, or party could change the whole equation.

Conclusion

Employment contracts are required by law and need to add clarity to the employment terms by including information related to working hours, job requirements, leave, remuneration and more. This legal contract protects both the employee and the employer and ensures that there is no unlawful action from either party. To get your free employment contract template, sign up to our SEIFSA resources portal.

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BRICS Manufacturing Conference to delve into the potential of exponential manufacturing

JOHANNESBURG, 24 MARCH 2021 – The BRICS Manufacturing Conference, which kicks off in Sandton, Johannesburg on Friday, will give local manufacturers the opportunity to reflect on how they can grow using new technologies.
Organised by the BRICS Manufacturing Working Group (MWG), the conference, which takes place at the IDC Conference Centre, aims to help local manufacturers to leverage off South Africa’s membership of BRICS by taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the grouping. The MWG’s role is to facilitate trade and investment in manufacturing between South Africa and its fellow member countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – and to encourage co-operation on projects where there is potential for collaboration or complementarity.
BRICS MWG Chairman Kaizer Nyatsumba said while access to markets is critical for growth, the manufacturing industry needs to take advantage of new technologies in order to be sustainable. He said it is in this context that the conference will discuss, among other things, exponential manufacturing, which is one of three key projects of the working group.
The report will be presented by the Managing Director of the Institute of Exponential Manufacturing, Johan van Tonder, who heads the exponential manufacturing investment programme in the MWG. According to Mr Van Tonder, the $20 billion programme spans 10 manufacturing industry sectors and aims to create 10 transformative industry leaders in the BRICS community within 10 years.
“The local industry has been facing an existential crisis because of increased automation as technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics lead to more advanced manufacturing technologies. However, the conference hopes to demonstrate to local manufacturers that these new technologies, coupled with exponential manufacturing, offer new opportunities for growth,” Mr Nyatsumba said.


BRICS Manufacturing Conference to highlight the need to narrow the trading gap between South Africa and its BRICS counterparts

JOHANNESBURG, 23 MARCH 2021 – BRICS Manufacturing Working Group (MWG) Chairperson Kaizer Nyatsumba today reiterated the importance of the BRICS Manufacturing Conference taking place this Friday, saying it comes at a time when both the Government and business have acknowledged that there needs to be massive growth in local production manufacturing in order to counter the negative impact of COVID-19.
Mr Nyatsumba said there also needs to be a market for locally-manufactured products beyond the borders of an economically strained South Africa. He said there was significant potential for “South Africa to increase its exports to the other countries within the BRICS group.
“The conference aims to highlight some of the opportunities that exist for local manufacturers to help close the trading gap between South Africa and its BRICS partners,” he said.
The inaugural one-day conference, which was organised by the BRICS Business Council’s MWG, in partnership with the Industrial Development Corporation, will bring together government and business leaders to discuss topics such as the role special economic zones play in advancing manufacturing, how business can better leverage South Africa’s membership of BRICS, and the relevance of the MWG.
Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel will deliver the opening address, while speakers will include Manufacturing Circle Executive Director Philippa Rodseth and National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa Chief Executive Mikel Mabasa. BRICS Business Council Chairperson Busi Mabuza will introduce the BRICS Business Council and provide insight on its main objective: facilitating trade and investment among the BRICS member countries.
“We, as the MWG, are excited to offer a platform where local manufacturers can engage with business leaders and hopefully identify opportunities for growth. We are confident that, notwithstanding the considerable challenges which have confronted it over the years, South Africa’s manufacturing sector has the potential to do much better than it is doing at the moment,” Mr Nyatsumba said.


Raiding the National Skills Fund is not the right solution to the student funding crisis, says SEIFSA

JOHANNESBURG, 18 MARCH 2021 – While the recent student protests over student debt are highly concerning, a solution to the problem does not lie in tapping into the National Skills Fund (NSF) to fund students through the National Student Finance Aid Scheme, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) said today.
SEIFSA Human Capital and Skills Development Executive Sumaya Hoosen said the mandate of the NSF, which was set up in 2001 to fund the skills development of workers and unemployed youth in accordance with the National Skills Development Strategy, is critical and should not be tampered with. She said –improving skills planning is critical, considering South Africa’s lack of appropriate skills which are critical for economic growth and social development.
“This includes the National Treasury Economic Policy, which states that South Africa’s current economic trajectory is unsustainable: economic growth has stagnated, unemployment is rising and inequality remains high. Therefore, it is imperative for the Government to ensure that skills supply responds to skills demand,” Ms Hoosen said.
She said by redirecting resources away from the fund, the Government will hamper efforts to address an already acute problem of skills shortage, particularly in artisan and technical fields. She said it would  also hamper efforts to create jobs since d learnerships and internships are among the best ways to absorb unemployed youth into the workplace, while also giving them the experience they need to start their careers.
“The National Critical Skills List released by the Department of Home Affairs already lays bare the fact that we have to import skills that should have been developed in the country. It is unfortunate that the Department of Higher Education and Training concedes that it will likely have to cut back on initiatives such as the development of much-needed artisans and technicians,” Ms Hoosen said.
She said in times of crisis such as these, when COVID-19 has destroyed so many livelihoods and lives, it is important that business, civil society and the Government work together to increase access to funding for education and training at all levels, including post-school training.
“While we understand the tertiary education funding challenge confronting the country, nevertheless we   urge the Government to find a solution that will not impact negatively on the development of critical skills. To the extent that business can come to the party in these tough times, we urge businesses to continue to make a difference by offering bursaries to students keen on studying – particularly those who form part of the missing middle,” Ms Hoosen said.
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SEIFSA-Construction

Rise in construction and building material sales shows signs of green shoots for economy, says SEIFSA

JOHANNESBURG, 18 MARCH 2021 – The uptick in sales of construction and building materials, amid increased construction activity, is encouraging and bodes well for the Metals and Engineering (M&E) sector, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA), said today.
SEIFSA Chief Economist Chifipa Mhango said the increase in the sale of construction and building material was mainly driven by the steady easing of lockdown restrictions, which led to an increase in demand of building supplies such as steel, cement and bricks, among others. However, Mr Mhango expressed concern about the accompanying decline in wholesale trade sales.
Wholesale trade sales data released by Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) today showed a sales decline of 7.1% in January, compared to January 2020. Month-on-month wholesale trade sales decreased by 0.6% in January, when compared with December 2020. However, sales of construction and building materials increased from R8.9 billion in December 2020 to R10.5 billion in January 2021, with expansionary year-on-year growth of 45.1 percent in January 2021.
Mr Mhango said the increase in the sale of construction and building material was positive news for the M&E sector.  He said this improvement was attributed to the increase in construction activity, which followed the relaxation of COVID-19 lockdown regulations, as more workers returned to work. He said it coincided with a welcome increase in M&E production sales, which improved significantly from R58 billion in December 2020 to R63 billion in January 2021.
“As the economy opens up and more COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out, we anticipate further green shoots in the sale of construction building materials. The rolling out of key Government infrastructure projects to the total value of R791.2 billion in public sector spending into the next three fiscal years is also good news to the M&E sector, as we expect demand for construction and building materials to improve further,” Mr Mhango said.


Manufacturing conference to open doors to engagement with BRICS Business Council on manufacturing

JOHANNESBURG, 18 MARCH 2021 – The inaugural BRICS Manufacturing Conference, the brainchild of the BRICS Business Council’s Manufacturing Working Group, demonstrates that the working group takes seriously its mandate to promote trade and investment in the manufacturing sector among the member countries.
The conference, taking place on 26 March at the IDC Conference Centre in Sandton, is aimed at helping South African manufacturers take advantage of South Africa’s membership of BRICS for growth. Among the topics on the agenda is the relevance of the MWG itself, with BRICS MWG Chairman Kaizer Nyatsumba saying it is an important discussion to have as it will unpack the role the group plays in showcasing South African manufacturing.
He said the Government has long acknowledged manufacturing’s importance in addressing some of the challenges facing the country. While its contribution to economic growth has declined over the years, it remains the fourth largest contributor to GDP and, with innovation, the right Government intervention and access to new markets, manufacturing can boost job creation in the country.
“The MWG’s role is to facilitate trade and investment within the manufacturing sector among our BRICS counterparts. We do this by encouraging co-operation on projects where there is potential for collaboration across the five countries, and we do this by raising awareness about the opportunities that exist in BRICS markets,” Mr Nyatsumba said, adding that the BRICS Manufacturing Conference is an example of profiling the MWG’s work.
Mr Nyatsumba said he hopes that the conference will give local manufacturers the opportunity to nurture a lasting partnership with the MWG since the end goal is to enable the group to expose them to the BRICS platform.


SEIFSA Rate Card - Awards Logo

SEIFSA Awards for Excellence to celebrate companies committed to artisan development

JOHANNESBURG, 16 MARCH 2021 – The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) is calling on companies which have made a difference in the training of artisans, thus contributing in efforts to address South Africa’s acute artisan shortage, to enter the SEIFSA Awards for Excellence in the Artisan Award category.
The Awards, which are now in their seventh year, are aimed at celebrating excellence and innovation within the Metals and Engineering (M&E) sector. The Artisan Award is presented to a company that has the highest activity in artisan training each year for itself and/or the industry. To qualify, companies’ interventions must have taken place between 1 July 2019 and December 2020.
Explaining the importance of recognising companies that train artisans, SEIFSA CEO Kaizer Nyatsumba said that in a country with high levels of youth unemployment, artisan development has long been seen as a vehicle to address this challenge. In addition, efforts to rebuild the economy will need a skilled workforce that includes artisans and engineers, fields that are currently in short supply. Companies that are stepping up to help address this shortage deserve to be celebrated, he said.
“We all hope that South Africa is entering an exciting phase of rebuilding the economy, with the Government boosting efforts to reboot the country through its infrastructure plans in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Engineers and artisans will be the ones at the coalface of these efforts; we need to ensure there are enough of them to ensure successful economic recovery,” Mr Nyatsumba said.
Last year’s winner in this category, Kgabo Cars Training and Services, trained 67 apprentices at different levels in 2019 alone.
“We are confident that there are other companies in the M&E sector that are doing an equally excellent job. We call on them to enter the Awards and serve as examples for other companies to emulate,” Mr Nyatsumba concluded.
The closing date for entries is 4 May 2021. The winners will be announced at a gala dinner on 20 May at a Johannesburg venue still to be confirmed.
The other categories in the SEIFSA Awards for Excellence are:

  • The Most Innovative Company Award;
  • The Corporate Social Investment (CSI) Programme of the Year;
  • The Health and Safety Award;
  • The Customer Service Award;
  • The Environmental Stewardship Award; and
  • The Most Transformed Company of the Year Award.

BRICS Manufacturing conference to review projects aimed at strengthening ties

JOHANNESBURG, 14 MARCH 2021 – The BRICS Manufacturing Conference will showcase the priority projects identified by sub-clusters of the BRICS Manufacturing Working Group (MWG), following its establishment.
The MWG, which is the organiser of the inaugural conference, is a working group of the BRICS Business Council, which was set up in 2013. Its aim is to advance the interest of the South African manufacturing sector within the bigger mandate of enhancing trade and investment among the five BRICS countries – South Africa, Brazil, Russia, India and China.
One of the ways in which the MWG seeks to fulfil its mandate is by identifying projects that offer opportunities for the BRICS countries to co-operate. Among these priority projects is MedTech Special Economic Zone (SEZ) or Medical Cluster Project, headed by Ilse Karg, who is the Chief Director of Future Industrial Production Technologies at the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition. She will present a progress report of the project at the conference.
Ms Karg said that according to a study by Business Monitors International (BMI Research), the medical device market in South Africa is expected to grow from $1.3-billion to around $1.7-billion US by 2021, signalling a potentially vibrant market that needs to be supported.
“The aim of the Medical Cluster Project is two-fold: firstly, to embrace and support health innovations, commercialisation and scale of products offered by the South African health sector and, secondly, to build local manufacturing capacity and increase exports,” she said.
Ms Karg said the project, which is being implemented with co-operation from the BRICS countries, will contribute towards South Africa’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan.
MWG Chairman Kaizer Nyatsumba said projects such as these offer South Africa an avenue to deepen economic ties with its BRICS counterparts, while at the same time supporting job creation and entrepreneurship opportunities.
“The projects form a part of the agenda at the conference since they demonstrate the possibilities that exist for local manufacturers not only to grow their footprint, but also to innovate and discover new ways of doing things,” he said.
Other key projects that will be discussed at the inaugural BRICS Manufacturing Conference include the Clariter Project and Exponential Manufacturing and how it supports the Nkomazi SEZ
Clariter, a global clean-tech company, transforms plastic waste into much higher-value, pure industrial products such as oils, waxes and solvents. These are then used as drop-in ingredients in more than 1,000 different end products such as paints and coatings, leather and wood care products and even in cosmetics, replacing crude oil- derived alternatives. Clariter ends the life of plastic and reduces the demand for fossil fuels, thereby driving a sustainable economy and a clean industry.  Benefits of this project include a partnership for industrialisation as South Africa and the BRICS countries can sign licensing agreements for use of Clariter’s technology.
The BRICS Conference, which will take place at the IDC Conference Centre in Sandton on 26 March, aims to help local manufacturers to take advantage of South Africa’s membership of BRICS through trade.