THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING A ‘MEMBER IN GOOD STANDING’
By Stephen Khola, National Labour Relations and HR Manager, ECA(SA)
The Constitution of the Electrical Contractors’ Association (SA) is a written document that embodies the reasons the ECA(SA) exists. It contains the rules of membership of the Association, the rights and obligations of members, as well as the powers and duties of the various interlinked organs of the Association. The rules of membership outline how a firm can become a member of the Association, maintain such membership and how such membership can be terminated.
During the course of membership, members enjoy certain rights, but also have corresponding obligations to comply with to maintain their membership status.
Membership entitles a member to a number of rights, including but not limited to the following:
- Being represented in labour disputes at various dispute resolution forums such as the bargaining council, the CCMA and the labour court.
- Being assisted at internal disciplinary hearings.
- Being afforded assistance or advice of a technical, legal, contractual or labour law nature.
- The Association may litigate on behalf of members in instances it deems necessary and expedient to promote the interests of members to the extent it is reasonable practicable.
Members entitled to the services offered by the ECA
Only members in good standing are entitled to services offered by the Association. A member in good standing is one who is regarded as having complied with all their explicit membership obligations and who are not prohibited from exercising any of their rights and powers to participate in the activities of the Association.
Attainment of ‘good standing’ status
‘Member in good standing’ is the status assigned to a member who has remained up-to-date on the Association’s dues, which cover a 12-month period from 1 June of each year to 30 June the following year.
In terms of clause 7.2 of the Association’s constitution, all Ordinary Members and Ordinary Service Members shall, in addition to the annual subscription as per clause sub-clause 7.1, pay a labour levy in respect of each employee in their employment for whom wages are prescribed in the Main Collective Agreement of the National Bargaining Council for the Electrical Industry.
Loss of ‘good standing’ status
Any member whose subscription is in arrears on 31 October of any year ceases to be a ‘member in good standing’. Similarly, should any member’s labour levies be in arrears for more than three months, such member ceases to be a member in good standing.
I submit that although the Association’s constitution is silent on this, a member who guilty of misconduct in terms of the Association’s disciplinary hearing is not in ‘good standing’ – ‘good standing’ presupposes compliance and good behaviour.
Effect of loss of ‘good standing’ status
- Suspension of membership rights
Any member who is not in good standing on 31 October of any year due to non-payment of subscriptions or whose labour levies are in arrears for a period exceeding three months shall not enjoy any membership rights as these would have been suspended.
- Termination of membership
Should any member’s subscription be in arrears on 30 June the following year such member’s membership shall be terminated. Similarly, should a member’s labour levies be in arrears for more than nine months, such member’s membership shall be terminated.
Suspension or termination of membership results in a member’s loss of very important services offered by the Association’s staff. For example, the staff will no longer assist such member with, amongst others, advice on technical, labour, contractual and training as well as representation at various dispute resolution fora. This will mean that to secure such advice or representation, a member would need to hire the services of other experts which may not necessarily be readily available or come cheap.
It makes sense that every member pays the applicable dues to the Association timeously so that they can continue to enjoy all the benefits of their ECA membership. You do not want surprises at the time when you need help the most. We derive pleasure from helping our members overcome challenges and dislike not being able to assist because a firm is not in good standing.