While the rights of all South African workers enshrined in the country’s constitution and labour legislation were celebrated on Workers’ Day on the 1st of May, every day the rights of over 80% of workers in the Western Cape’s building industry are improved. This is due to their employers being members of the Master Builders Association of the Western Cape (MBAWC).

Allen Bodill, MBAWC Executive Director, explains: “The building industry is a major contributor to employment and economic growth. However, this is only possible if members of the public and private sectors invest in construction. To help ensure that this investment is attracted to the Western Cape, one of the MBAWC’s objectives is to drive higher aesthetic, technical and ethical standards in the local industry. This starts with our members’ employees who are at the industry’s forefront. By providing these workers with advantages that amplify their intrinsic rights, it can ultimately enhance their ability to deliver on these standards. Research shows that happy, healthy employees perform better and are more productive.”

MBAWC members who are registered with the Building Industry Bargaining Council (BIBC) procure employee benefits for their workers that suit the nature of the industry and provide for the workers’ financial security. Through the purchase of these, employers contribute to the Holiday Fund which covers the employees’ leave pay during the annual builders’ break as well as to the Bonus Fund to provide for the employees’ yearly pay supplement. Both of these funds are paid out at the end of every year, with the BIBC handing over in excess of R220 million in 2016.

By buying these benefits, employers also subsidise the Sick Fund which pays employees a premium in addition to the normal sick-leave benefit set out in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. Furthermore, the fund outlays a small amount to cover those employees who have long-term illnesses for an additional three-month period.

Over and above these perks, employees of MBAWC full members have access to free training through the MBAWC Skills and Education Trust. This is in line with the Skills Development Act, which aims to: develop the skills of the South African workforce; improve the quality of life of workers, their prospects of work and labour mobility; enhance productivity in the workplace and promote self-employment.

According to MBAWC Group Skills Facilitator, Tony Keal, “The Trust enables us to deliver on our objective of fostering and encouraging the training and general educational advancement of people in the building industry. We do so through offering bursaries, apprenticeship programmes, basic skills acquisition courses and upskilling for experienced employees.”

With employers being obligated in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act to provide their employees with a safe working environment as well as training to ensure their health and safety at work, the MBAWC has taken this one step further. The Association supplies on-site Occupational Health and Safety training through a specially-equipped vehicle which visits members’ sites to deliver a series of short, high-impact sessions. Issues covered include scaffold precautions, working safely at heights, the correct use, storage and maintenance of personal protective equipment as well as Hazchem safety. This service arms workers with the knowledge they need to perform tasks safely and without risk to their health and that of others.

“Our workers are the lifeblood of the economy. By upholding and enhancing their rights, we can continue to build a prosperous South Africa,” concludes Bodill.

For more information, visit www.mbawc.org.za.