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Thread: Bargaining council

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Bargaining council

    I'm pretty interested in the way we are being bludgoened into joining the Electrical Bargaining Council.

    The Labour Relations Act states that if over 50% of an industry is registered with its bargaining council, agreements of the bargaining council are binding on unregistered participants in the industry.

    This implies that membership of the bargaining council is voluntary, ie a choice by the company.

    However, we are being told that if we have employees we have to register with the bargaining council???

    By my understanding, being registered means we are entitled to have input into bargaining council decisions. But the real question here is why would a small electrical company want to be registered?

    Big companies I can understand, but small companies - what are the benefits?

    And is all this talk of "must register" actually legitimate?

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    Bargaining Council

    Hi Dave,

    So what have they done to annoy you?!!! (or should I say what haven't they done!)

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Hi Nicky and welcome.

    Well for a start, when I asked them for information about the bargaining council, the anwer was: "You fill in our forms and we send you a bill. That's all you need to know". Not quite the level of detail I was looking for.

    So now rather irritated by the attitude I started some research. Not easy given the remarkable lack of info published.

    Essentially, a number of provisions and principles of the Labour Relations Act have been contravened, including failing to publish agreements as required. Some of the decisions around pension funding have been a bit dodge too.

    Ultimately, I fail to see why small contractors support the bargaining council - in theory we are being herded together so that labour only has to negotiate once - very useful for labour representatives. And this story that we have to register....

    And then there all the petty little aspects of the agreements.... KISS it is not.

    Oh. I could go on and on but it's the weekend - time to relax
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Bargaining Council

    I share your frustrations with the Bargaining Council. It seems everyone is going along with being told they have to join instead of standing up to them and saying NO or asking questions. What about the employees who don't want to contribute but have to? The representative who came to see me and insist that I join basically admitted that the BC was in a bit of a "mess" at the time and he was assisting in "sorting" it out. Very reassuring for someone being forced to contribute.

    I would be very interested in hearing what else you have discovered Dave so when the week-end is over do tell?

    Are there other members who feel strongly about this?

    I recently read an article about a business owner who simply had to close his doors as he could not afford to adhere to the BC rules.

    I am both amused and irritated to see that they simply "bill" or "invoice" you even though it is not accurate or correct. How much extra work are they creating (and are they on top of things) when many companies' payrolls for the electrical industry vary from month to month? And then once you have submitted the actual return and payment they do not issue you with a correct, accurate invoice! So what's the point of issuing incorrect invoices?

    Employment contracts according to the Bargaining Council also annoy the hell out of me... but that's another story!

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    i was told i had to join so like all the other sheep i too joined got the estimate but found levies for both myself and my employees for the ECA wich i had just paid over R1000 to join so i contacted them and requested an explanation...they first told me i had to just pay then i got a letter stating that i had to now pay penalities and interest so i told them to de-register my company i then got a letter with reduced amounts...i am still not sure what to do i dont have money to waste on legal fees and i dont know if i have to ay these so called levies which they cant explain why i have to pay...i am told they are admin cost just pay or suffer the penalties wich will add up if i dont.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    The non-unionised employee levy to go to the unions is particularly interesting. Perhaps that is the bit they dropped when you questioned it?

    Pretty much every electrical contractor I've spoken to is grossly unhappy about the bargaining council. I just don't understand why it's still there as it seems it is the sign-on from employers that is giving the 50%+ needed to keep it in place. Organised labour don't seem to have enough union members on board to carry the day.

    When I get a decent gap, I think I'm going to work on dissecting the LRA here, particularly the section on bargaining councils.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Recently I was at a SACCI (formerly SACOB) SME meeting and around the table were a few bargaining council representatives. At the end of the meeting a labour broker did a short presentation on bargaining councils. The people around the table, bar the BC representatives, all agreed that BC provide no benefit to SMEs except adding to their costs. I casually suggested that BCs should be dissolved and let the LRA and BCEA guide businesses and allow an old system that was formed in the 1940s to 'die.' You can imagine their response!
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    This was the bargaining council representatives who had an adverse reaction?

    Let's think about this - We propose to shut down your bargaining council operation which is providing you with a rather comfortable livelihood. Their reaction "Yes please - bring it on."

    I don't think so.

    Never mind that bargaining councils have been closing businesses (quite literally) for years.

    But it goes beyond the bargaining council staff. There is a whole financial mini eco-system there. Which ordinarily I wouldn't have much problem with if it was adding value at least commensurate with its cost.

    One of my little mantras when things look messy and obscure - If you want to figure out what is really going on and why, follow the money.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Sounds like the EBC has a few admin issues they need to resolve. Having been involved in the Textile Industry BC I can share some light on the general trends.

    Unions are very pro the idea as it means that they can get away with much fewer skilled negotiators. In fact they only need one instead of hundreds, each negotiating at plant level.

    From an employers point of view, wages increases are generally lower with centralized bargaining as the increase tends to be deflated by pressure from employers who can not afford increases.

    In the textile industry one had some major players as well as some sections of the industry that where made up of small employers. So maybe fairly similar to the electrical industry.

    Either way employer associations should represent the interest of of each segment of the industry and fight for the interests of the employers it represents. (Electrical Contractors Employers Assoc or such like) The Employer Associations that are party to the agreement will be listed as such in the published agreements.

    With proper representation on the bargaining council, made up of employer and Union representatives, the problems of BC admin can be fixed or the administrator can be fired if he is not doing his job properly, which is in the interests of both the Union and the Employers.

    So compare this situation with the possibility of an active Union Organiser hounding each employer separately. I would take the BC costs anyday in preference to that, but then it must be run efficiently.

    Another advantage is that the BC should settle disputes within the industry. If this is done properly, it is maybe better than having to go to the CCMA.

    Hope this is of some help.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    So large employers win. And small businesses get gently shafted. I don't believe for a moment that the agreement is set at the level of the weakest link.

    Also, consider for a moment if the vast bulk of the industry is made up of small businesses. It is not economically viable for union negotiators to hound small businesses with small staff complements. The negotiator costs will exceed the union fee income.

    When it comes to comparing electrical contracting and the textile industry, a really small textile concern would be a giant in the electrical contracting industry.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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