The Steel & Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) is the voice of the metals & engineering (M&E) sector and acts as an intermediary between the industry, government, business and labour.

"SEIFSA represents the interests of its members and the industry. The federation continues to increase value for all those it represents, based on an impeccable track record driven by decades of experience, ensuring an amicable business environment and further enhancing opportunities in the sector," says Theresa Crowley, associations manager at SEIFSA.

Elias Monareng, human resources executive for Mitek South Africa, is clear on how his company has benefited from its SEIFSA affiliated membership - industrial relations and legal issues. "Labour matters are complex and costly if standards and/or protocols are not followed. Being an affiliate member of SEIFSA, most of our labour matters are handled at the collective bargaining level and not at plant level, giving us more room and time to focus on operational issues. If there is a problem at plant level, SEIFSA is just a phone call away for any industrial relations and/or legal advice and in most cases for free. That is what we call value-added service," says Monareng.

SEIFSA has also helped Mitek with job grading for all scheduled positions to align wages to the industry pay grades and rates; the training of employees; and wage negotiations at national level as well as legal advice during strikes.

For Terresa Frankenberg, quality assurance manager at Evapco South Africa, training is what she is most grateful for when it comes to SEIFSA.

"It has been very beneficial, I've got so much out of training. I have done all the training that SEIFSA offers in terms of my job - disciplinary hearings and the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act, and so much more", she says.

The other area where Evapco has reaped the rewards of its SEIFSA membership is with labour relations. "When it comes to things like negotiating wages, SEIFSA has really helped. Last year was incredibly stressful for all of us and the SEIFSA guys were just doing their best, throughout, including negotiating wages.

"I could WhatsApp any of my SEIFSA contacts at any time and I would get a response. They are so accessible," she says.

Niren Rohanlal, the senior regional product and solution manager at Grundfos, says that as a multinational the company has found SEIFSA's advice on local regulations invaluable.

"As an international company it is hard to navigate the labour law and other regulations, but SEIFSA acts on behalf of Grundfos. In fact, SEIFSA goes well beyond the call of duty in facilitating and accommodating international companies. As a multinational in South Africa, Grundfos would have been lost without the support of SEIFSA."

Wage negotiation is another area where Grundfos has been happy to be part of the SEIFSA family. "SEIFSA has played a very important role in this. They helped with talks with the bargaining council and also the union wage increases. There is always the offer of support from SEIFSA," he says.

SEIFSA offers its members a wide range of services, and at a time when South Africa's M&E sector is under enormous pressure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a shrinking domestic market, increasing unemployment and cheap imports, this level of support can make all the difference.

"SEIFSA is not only a national employer federation that represents the M&E sector, we also provide a comprehensive range of services and products to member companies and any other interested companies inside and outside the sector. These services include advice, assistance, consultancy - on issues such as labour legislation, dispute resolution, health and safety and Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment - publications, training courses, seminars and conferences," says SEIFSA’s Crowley.

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SEIFSA is a national federation representing 18 independent employer associations in the metal and engineering industries, with a combined membership of over 1 200 companies employing over 170 000 employees. The federation was formed in 1943 and its member companies range from giant steel-making corporations to micro-enterprises employing fewer than 50 people.