The world of work is being profoundly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the introduction of lockdown, and the phased re-opening of the economy, the Coronavirus pandemic has presented unique challenges to all types and levels of learning. These challenges have also stimulated discussion amongst MIWA and RMI ranks on the need for innovative development in online learning.
MIWA, under the leadership of the National Executive Committee and directed by Pieter Niemand, National Director of MIWA, participated, and will continue to participate, in the RMI’s National Executive Training Committee’s current initiative to develop a framework for digital remodelling of lifelong learning and work. In this context, MIWA has the opportunity to draw from the learnings and experiences of paid officials, elected office bearers and other members as subject matter experts on learning and training. This can be done anywhere and at any time as this is what is central to lifelong learning.
Andrea Bogner, the MIWA NEC representative on the RMI’s NETC, actively participated in the first framework discussion on 30 April 2020. This included the examination and re-examination of a range of issues on how digital education and training solutions can be utilised to deliver skills programmes, learnerships, and apprenticeships, further meeting the requirements of assessments and moderations by Sectorial Education and Training Authorities and the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations. The inputs received included innovative learning methodologies for learners including apprentices who acquire re-skilling and upskilling at the workplace.
Electude and MIWA have worked together to find a solution for blended learning approaches particularly for the motor mechanic and diesel mechanic trades. The mapping of the Electude modules for the motor mechanic trade against the Competency Based Modular Training (CBMT) delivery method has been tested and found to fill the gap in the use of only hardcopy training material. The flexibility of the Electude solution is such that regardless of delivery method, legacy or new occupational qualification, modules get mapped against the requirements in the relevant curriculum.
“MIWA has demonstrated, over many years, its resilience and willingness to embrace technology to promote skills development,” concludes Niemand.
What’s the best way to disinfect your vehicle to help stop the spread of COVID-19? The US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says hand-washing is crucial, but so is disinfecting surfaces, including those in your car.
The CDC recommends wearing disposable gloves to clean and disinfect surfaces, and wiping down surfaces with soap and water prior to disinfection. For vehicle interiors, a soft or microfiber cloth dampened with soap and water can be used on hard surfaces.
Most common disinfectants are effective, but some are not ideal for vehicles, including bleach, hydrogen peroxide, benzene, thinners or abrasive cleaners that can damage upholstery and interiors. The CDC says alcohol-based wipes or sprays with at least 70% alcohol are effective against the coronavirus. These can be safely used in your vehicle.
For car screens, rather than ammonia-based cleaners, use screen wipes or a soft cloth dampened with soap and water to clean; then dry with a clean, soft cloth.
Here’s Nissan’s checklist for vehicle surfaces to disinfect:
This is without a doubt the most challenging economic and trading period the RMI and its associations have experienced in our history. The sustainability of the automotive aftermarket is at a critical junction.
I appreciate that the last two months have created a lot of financial pressure on all of our members. The survival of the automobile aftermarket sector is key for South Africa, not only as a vital employment sector and contributor to the fiscus, but also as a significant enabler of, and support function to, many other sectors. Without an effective and operational automotive aftermarket, strategically located in each district, community, town, metro and city across all provinces, we are of the view that vehicle safety and effective vehicle repairs and maintenance will be negatively impacted and detrimental to the much needed and speedy recovery of the economy.
In preparation for work readiness our members have adopted a phased approach to help alleviate financial pressure until business momentum can resume. It has allowed us time to ensure our businesses are all fully compliant with the stringent sanitisation regulations and protocols which need to be carefully adhered to. The reality is that just one positive COVID-19 case will close a business and we cannot afford that at this stage.
The RMI has accordingly developed an indepth COVID-19 business risk plan which will be used and updated for some time to come. We feel confident that our industry is ready and committed to implement all measures and maintain compliance at all times.
We understand that business recovery will take as long as six to nine months, if not longer, post lockdown to return to a sustainable and profitable return on investment. We not only have to deal with the impact of the virus and the lockdown, but at the same time the global retraction of the economy.
We need to be agile, adaptable and resilient during this time. We have found new ways of connecting and talking to members and customers with zoom calls and podcast and we have seen virtual training taking the lead. Moving forward we will continue to use these digital channels but I still see a more blended approach to avoid losing the power of face-to-face interaction. Our industry is known for its innovation and now more than ever, we need to find new, more effective ways of connecting with customers and staff. We will find a new normal.
I would like to end off by expressing my appreciation and pride in the way our member businesses have conducted themselves in these hugely challenging times. I would like to believe that this crisis will present an opportunity to come back stronger together.
In a judgement handed down this week by the High Court of South Africa in the matter of Liberty Fighters Network & 2 Others v The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (case no. 21542-2020) the court ruled that, whilst the declaration of a national state of disaster by the State President in itself was legally permissible, most of the regulations published under Lockdown levels 3 and 4 did not pass the muster of being constitutionally compliant.
Despite this finding by the court, these regulations remain in force and effect for 14 days from the date of the judgement, providing the Respondent (Minister of COGTA) with an opportunity to amend these regulations in order to amend their legal defects.
This means that, for at least the next 14 days, the status quo as regards the application and interpretation of the Lockdown regulations remain.
Members are urged to continue applying these regulations until such time as they are amended. This means, in particular, continuing to promote and sustain the provisions of the Business Continuity Plan and Risk Adjustment Strategy that the RMI has provided its members with. It requires utmost care in applying measures that will prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the workplace.
Once these regulations are either repealed or amended, the RMI will, as usual, advise members of the terms of the new regulations and the obligations that arise for business owners.
Members requiring a copy of the Business Continuity Plan and Risk Adjustment Strategy that the RMI has provided its members with, may call on any of the Regional Offices. Queries and questions as regards the application thereof, may be directed at any one of the RMI’s Associational Directors, whose details appear below.
|SAPRA ||Vishal Premlall||082 886 6392 |
|SAMBRA ||Richard Green ||082 378 4899 |
|MIWA ||Pieter Niemand||082 812 5391 |
|SAVABA ||Julian Pillay ||082 560 6625 |
|VTA ||Julian Pillay||082 560 6625|
|NADA ||Gary McCraw||082 560 6613|
|TEPA ||Hedley Judd||071 892 1475|
|ARA ||Attie Serfontein||082 452 5153|
On 24 March 2020, I communicated to all the funds’ members informing them that the funds are cognisant of the economic difficulties facing members, employers and society generally as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the poor performance of world markets and that we are taking steps in the Funds to protect members’ retirement savings as far as possible during these difficult times.
As I am sure you know by now, there has been tremendous market turmoil in the past two months, with unprecedented levels of volatility and reactions, in the form of economic stimulus, in order to protect our financial system.
It is important that as Funds we keep you updated on how we have addressed this market turmoil and what our performance looks like during this period. I am glad to report that our investment consultants, Riscura, are satisfied that our funds have performed better than most others during this period. Members should therefore take comfort in knowing that our Trustees have acted swiftly, decisively and correctly during this period to members’ benefit.
As members of the Auto Workers’ Provident Fund and Motor Industry Provident Fund, your retirement fund contributions are invested in a defined contribution arrangement, which means that it is invested in the markets (shares, bonds, private equity, and similar investments) and whatever returns the markets give, you as a member receive – so, if the markets go up your retirement savings increase as well, but if they go down you also see a decrease in your retirement fund credit in the fund.
As you will know by now, in the last three months financial markets have been very volatile and have fallen significantly due to long-standing underlying structural economic issues which were brought to the fore by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some developed markets like the USA and Europe have fallen over 20% and emerging markets such as South Africa have also seen significant drops in financial markets, replicating those of developed markets. Our funds are invested in the global market and they experience similar impacts when these occur. As you would expect, our funds are not immune to such drops and have felt negative returns recently as a result of market performance, which has also negatively affected your fund credit.
As a member though, you must note that financial markets work in cycles, so they experience years of good growth and also periods when markets experience poor growth. It is hard to predict these cycles, so it is widely accepted that as a long-term investor, retirement fund members should not move in and out of markets just because of a temporary market fall – what generally happens is that this type of investor loses out when the market picks up again and falls into the trap of exiting the market at the wrong times, buying when expensive and thus losing out. Historically, it has been shown that markets recover well and quickly after experiencing a downturn, but it is difficult to predict when the upturn will start.
Our Funds have restructured their investment portfolios to bring them in line with market trends as identified by our investment consultants, so are well positioned to take advantage of the expected upturn. Our investment strategy also aims to minimise investment risks by diversifying into different asset classes, regions and asset managers, so we carefully consider the investment advice we receive and make decisions which will add value to our members’ retirement savings in the long term. So, while we have experienced losses, the extent of these losses has been limited through this new investment strategy, which we believe will yield significant long-term benefits for our members.
The one thing a member should not do at the moment is panic. So, considering withdrawal from our funds should be avoided. This is because your investment losses become locked-in and you miss the upside when it comes, so withdrawal should not be considered as an option.
For those members who are at or close to retirement and who have seen a drop in their retirement benefit, they should consider remaining in the fund for as long as possible if they can, so as to take advantage of the market recovery. Please consult with your financial adviser in these circumstances so that you can make an informed decision.
Our investment consultants, Riscura have provided the following investment performance figures for our funds, which are up to 31 April 2020.
PERFORMANCE TABLES TO 30 APRIL 2020
As you see, there is indeed no need to panic – while fund values saw a drop of approximately 15% during the pre-lockdown period between February and March 2020, our funds have started to recover well from this recent market collapse and achieved over 10% positive returns during the month of April 2020. It therefore makes sense to remain calm and optimistic that we will make up the poor performance in the coming months.
We will provide you with further investment updates in the next few months.
Please stay safe.
The COVID-19 Loan Guarantee Scheme is aimed at supporting small and medium businesses who have lost significant income as a result of the steps taken by the South African government to curb the spread of COVID-19. Announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa as part of the R500 billion stimulus package, the details of the scheme were agreed by the National Treasury, the SA Reserve Bank and the Banking Association of SA (Basa) in May.
The National Treasury has provided an initial guarantee of R100 billion to the scheme and it has indicated there is an option to increase the guarantee to R200 billion if necessary and if the scheme is deemed successful.
The scheme will provide government-guaranteed loans through participating banks to firms with an annual turnover of less than R300 million. The loans will improve business liquidity and help these businesses stay active for the duration of lockdown restrictions and return to being economically productive once all restrictions are lifted. In the longer-term, its objective is reviving the economy and preserving jobs.
How it works
The National Treasury, South African Reserve Bank and commercial banks represented by the Banking Association South Africa, have agreed on the relevant legal framework, and financial and operational requirements.
The National Treasury provides a guarantee to the Reserve Bank, which records the guarantee as a contingent liability on the government’s account. The Reserve Bank will then lend the money to commercial banks at the repo rate (currently 3.75%) plus a 0.5% guarantee fee.
Banks will lend this money to qualifying small and medium-sized businesses at the repo rate plus a fixed spread of 3.5%. Each applying business may get only one loan under the scheme and they have five years to repay the loan.
The Reserve Bank is the administrator of the scheme and it will publish an annual report setting out how much each bank has used from the scheme and the performance (default rate) of each bank’s COVID-19 loan portfolio.
The government and commercial banks are sharing the risks of these loans and while the arrangements are designed to encourage banks to lend more than they would otherwise lend, the Treasury still expects banks to make sound lending decisions and avoid reckless lending.
Treasury said the intention is not for the banks to make a profit from the loans. It said any net profits would be pooled to offset losses in the scheme to minimise total losses to SA taxpayers.
Which banks are participating?
Absa, First National Bank, Investec, Mercantile Bank, Nedbank and Standard Bank are accepting loan applications from eligible businesses which bank with them.
Which businesses qualify?
To qualify for the COVID-19 Loan Guarantee Scheme a business must:
- have a group annual turnover of less than R300 million
- have been up-to-date with its loan payments to the relevant bank or be an account holder without any loans at the relevant bank as at end-February 2020
- have an existing relationship with the bank that grants it the COVID-19 loan
- be registered with SARS
- be financially distressed as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdowns
To read the full advisory note, please go to https://www.businessforsa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2020-06-03-Loan-Guarantee-Summary-.pdf
RMI members with any queries in this regard are requested to please forward them to Sanelisiwe Jantjies (Sanelisiwe.firstname.lastname@example.org).
National Treasury http://www.treasury.gov.za/
The South African Reserve Bank https://www.resbank.co.za/Pages/default.aspx
The Banking Association of South Africa https://www.banking.org.za/
Further queries regarding applications should be directed to the individual banks, which are administering the scheme.
However, Business for South Africa would be interested in hearing about any difficulties people may be experiencing in accessing the loan. Please write to us at email@example.com
These are indeed difficult and unpredictable times for industries throughout the globe.
The terrible knock in economic growth, reflected in the massive growth in unemployment numbers and the dramatic drop in consumer behaviour, has spared no company and no country.
The SETAs, too, have been affected. The skills levy payment holiday announced by the President at the start of the lockdown in March will have some negative implications, but in keeping with a ministerial directive, we continue stipends for learners.
It is important to note that the 2020 academic year in the Technical and Vocational Education and training sector has been restructured.
The minister has provided the following tentative return dates:
NATED Trimester (ENGINEERING) students
N6 & N3: 10 June
N5 & N2: 15 June
N4 & N1: 22 June
NATED Semester (BUSINESS STUDIES) students
N6: 25 June
N5: 29 June
N4: 06 July
Level 4: 13 July
Level 3: 20 July
Level 2: 27 July
Several TVET colleges have already developed learning materials both for TV and radio broadcasts available through the DHET website. These initiatives will continue beyond the return of students to campuses.
Furthermore, all students who will not have returned to campuses in June and July will also be supported remotely until they return to campus according to the phase-in process.
TVET colleges are using textbooks, e-Guides, past question papers, and uploaded YouTube videos to assist students. These are supported through bulk text messages from colleges and WhatsApp groups set up by lecturers.
In addition, Indlela has implemented fresh ways for trade tests to continue without breaking the COVID-19 regulations.
A strong suit of our sector is the inter-connectedness of the supply chain process. This has a wholesome impact on training in all value creation processes.
As the intermediary between the education and training and the manufacturing and engineering sectors, the merSETA has forged strong inter-organisational and company relationships that will stand the test of time.
These relationships span decades. While there is likely to be a decline in the number of training opportunities in the immediate future, economies are bound to bounce back once the pandemic is under control and lockdown restrictions are lifted.
So, we should never take our eyes off the ball when it comes to skilling our workforce and students.
On behalf of the merSETA, I wish to applaud those companies that have stepped into the breach caused by the short-supply of personal protection equipment. In particular, we appreciate those companies that have re-engineered production processes to manufacture face-marks, gloves, ventilators as well as launching emergency field hospitals.
It once again shows the agility of companies in the mer-SECTOR.
We have taken a huge hit, but we also have strong shock absorbers.
‘Till next month!
merSETA Acting CEO
As the country moves through the various lockdown levels, a number of motorists are still unsure about what constitutes emergency repairs during Lockdown Level 4.
Jakkie Olivier, CEO of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), says members have received a number of queries from motorists in this regard. “What you cannot buy are parts and components that may be considered as cosmetic or not critical and essential to the safe operation of your vehicle. Secondly, no service and maintenance is allowed which is not either overdue in terms of the manufacturer’s specification, or of an emergency nature,” explains Olivier.
Olivier says emergency repairs essentially cover the fitment, repair, replacement, remanufacturing, and/or the rebuilding of any of the system components listed under the emergency parts section namely:
- An emergency repair is where a vehicle needs a repair to keep it roadworthy.
- An emergency repair is where a vehicle needs a repair to keep it safe.
- An emergency repair is where a vehicle needs a repair to ensure no one gets injured during the use of the vehicle.
- An emergency repair is where a vehicle has had an unexpected failure of a part required to keep it running, or to allow it to get to a place of safety.
- Additionally, where scheduled maintenance or a routine service is overdue this would fall into the same category as emergency repair.
Emergency parts cover the items needed in the fitment, repair, replacement, remanufacturing, and/or the rebuilding of any of the system components listed in the emergency parts section namely:
- An emergency part or component is a part or component essential to keep a car roadworthy.
- An emergency part or component is a part or component essential to keep a car safe.
- An emergency part or component is a part or component essential to ensure no one gets injured during the use of the vehicle.
- An emergency part or component is where a vehicle has had an unexpected failure of a part required to keep it running, or to allow it to get to a place of safety.
- Parts and components required for scheduled maintenance or a routine service, which is overdue, would fall into the same category emergency parts
The parts list could include, but would not be limited to, any service or repair, related parts considered as components of engine components; cooling system components; drive train components; auto-electrical components; suspension components; gearbox components; glass and windscreens; fuel system components; lubrication system components; tyres, rims and related services; brake and clutch components and tow bars.
“The South Africa car park is generally an aging car park with 83% of all vehicles over the age of five years old so maintenance is critical. Motorists need to ensure their car remain roadworthy. Roadworthiness and road safety need to be priorities for all South Africans. At this point we are not sure if the same restrictions will apply from 1 June. We are hoping the definition can be expanded to include more than just emergency repairs when we move to Level 3,” concludes Olivier.