THE SA ELECTRICAL CONTRACTING INDUSTRY IN A NUTSHELL – HOW IT ALL WORKS IN A NUTSHELL
By Louis Pretorius
I was recently reminded that many ECA(SA) members do not understand the workings of this industry, referring specifically to the structures and institutions within the electrical contracting industry. So, I’m going to explain the different entities and the roles they play in this industry in a way that makes sense to me as an electrician so that anyone will be able to understand how it all works – the ECA(SA), NBCEI, DoL, CIDB and the ECB – and what the ECA(SA) does for its members.
Let’s start with
- Electrical Contractors’ Association of South Africa – ECA(SA)
Founded in 1950, the ECA (SA) is an employers’ organisation, registered in terms of the Labour Relations Act, which looks after the interest of member employers in the contracting industries. The Association renders several services for its members and it still surprises me to note that many members don’t understand the extent of these services.
The ECA(SA) renders legal, labour, contractual, training and technical services, however, it is the extent of these services that is important.
Let’s look at these:
We cannot help you in a murder or a divorce case. We can, however, help you with the correct application of the Construction Regulations, the Electrical Installation Regulations, the Electrical Machinery Regulations and the General Machinery Regulations, to name but a few. All of them have an impact on your business and are equally important in the bigger OHS Act and its implications.
This service is more than only ensuring that the rights of electrical contractors are protected in the Joint Building Contracts Committee (JBCC) and in other contract documentation. We assist with advice from the contract signing phase to well after completion phase. This includes the writing of letters of demand, meeting with clients, and assisting members with the arbitration process. It is amazing what a letter of demand can accomplish!
The ECA(SA) along with its contracted providers are the only recognised providers of Apprentice and Semi-skilled Training in the industry. This training is offered in all the ECA(SA) Regions. The ECA(SA) is not only about the training of Apprentices and Semi-skilled workers, we also provide training for electrical contractors and offer courses such as our Certificate of Compliance course, our Estimating and Tendering course and the ECA(SA)’s exclusive customised courses, such as the highly successful ‘Labour Relations and Basic Conditions of Employment Act’ workshop. The ECA(SA) does this for its members to ensure that they are better equipped to run their businesses more effectively than non-members.
It is a little-known fact that the ECA(SA)’s regional directors are members serving on a number of SABS Committees, which is why the Association is in a position to assist members with the correct interpretation of the most commonly used specifications and codes. We also offer members an on-site inspection service in some regions. This is over and above the telephone help-line service rendered to members by two Master Installation Electricians, three Installation Electricians and a Tester for Single Phase – all of whom work with SANS 10142-1 on a daily basis.
The ECA(SA) is currently the only Employers’ Organisation on the Bargaining Council. Many people, it seems, think that representing members at the Bargaining Council during wage negotiations is all that counts as Labour Services. As the ECA(SA), we assist members with a comprehensive service that ranges from acting as Chairpersons in disciplinary hearings to assistance at the Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration(CCMA). Please contact us before you act because it is easier for us to help you follow the correct procedures than to correct a flawed process.
- The Bargaining Council for the Electrical Industries (NBCEI)
I am often asked, “Must I belong to the Bargaining Council?” The answer to that question is: “Yes, if you employ workers in the electrical contracting industry”. You are also compelled by law to register all your employees with the Bargaining Council and pay all the related monies, including Pension and Sick Benefit Fund (SBF) contributions. Unlike many other organisations, the Bargaining Council’s agents may enter your premises or workplace without a prior appointment. I like to refer to the Bargaining Council as the Industry’s ‘labour police’.
- Construction Industries Development Board (CIDB)
The CIDB was called into existence to help the ‘right’ contractor get the ‘right’ projects. It is often the case that contractors tender on projects that they cannot sustain financially. Your registration grade with the CIDB is directly linked to your ability to do projects of a specific value.
- Department of Labour (DoL)
Over and above all the things that the Department of Labour is involved in – such as inspection services and the registration of Registered Persons – it is also the place where you need to register as an Electrical Contractor. In about 2012, the Department of Labour stopped using the ECB as its registering agent and began undertaking the registration of Contractors as an in-house function. It is important to note that registration with the Department of Labour is a legal requirement. The cost of such registration is R120.00 per year.
- Electrical Contracting Board (ECB)
Since 1992, when it was empowered in the Electrical Installation Regulations, the ECB was the body legally mandated to administer the required annual registration of electrical contractors. Although the ECB had offices in all the ECA(SA) regions, it was never part of the ECA(SA). Until 2009, registration with the ECB was compulsory and a legal requirement. However, in 2009, the Electrical Installation Regulations (EIR), (please note: Not SANS 10142-1) changed and made provision for the Department of Labour (DoL) to register electrical contractors. This DoL started doing registrations in September 2012, and the ECB’s exclusive role in the registration of electrical contractors became obsolete. Later, the Electrical Contracting Board was dissolved /closed down.
- Electrical Conformance Board (ECB)
Subsequently a new entity, the Electrical Conformance Board was established, also using the acronym ECB, and by mostly the same people, hence the confusion. The ECB then started a system of voluntary listing/registrations of electrical contractors. This gives electrical contractors an option to, if they wish, register with the ECB. It is to be noted that this is a voluntary registration and is not compulsory.
Finally, please remember that the ECA(SA) is not a registration body nor is it a police force. The Association is an employers’ organisation that looks after the interests of its member employers in the electrical contracting industry.
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