history of master builders kwazulu-natal: part 8
Pieter Rautenbach was born in Johannesburg and matriculated at the Potchefstroom Gimnasium. He thereafter underwent apprenticeship training as a heavy current Electrician on a Goldmine on the Far West Rand. He also passed a Trade Test as an Electrical Wireman. He became a youthful Electrical Inspector of Works in the former Transvaal Works Department before becoming a junior Safety and Health Consultant with the National Occupational Safety Association.
During 1964 he was responsible for co-ordinating the Association's second ‘Tidiness for Safety' week. Both the local winners also became the first winners in the National competition.
During 1971 he embarked on a career change when he was appointed Director of the Electrical Contractors Association of South Africa. He held this position for a number of years before being headhunted as the new Director of the Durban Association at the end of 1975.
He was to witness great changes in the building industry in the Province and South Africa. One of his first missions was to ensure that the Association became multi-racial. At it's Annual General Meeting held during February 1976 it was resolved to open the membership to all those who qualified. This was a first among the various Master Builders Associations in South Africa.
An important early milestone was the introduction of Contract Price Adjustment in the form of the Haylett Formula which expedited payment claims.
During the late seventies a fragmented situation among employers in the building industry in the sub-region existed. There were separate Master Builders Associations in Durban, Pietermaritzburg and the Lower South Coast. In addition, BIFSA had Special Members in Northern Natal, Kwa Zulu and Zululand. There was obviously a need for rationalisation. This process commenced in the early eighties under the leadership of Andrew Stewart and Roger Pickles who both were Presidents in Pietermaritzburg before becoming Presidents of the amalgamated Natal Association. For many years the Association as the Natal Master Builders Association operated as a registered employers organisation in the Province of Natal and as a recognised employers organisation in the self-governing Kwa Zulu Natal. The Kwa Zulu Natal Master Builders Allied Industries association as it is currently known came about after the Government of National Unity was formed during 1994.
During the Presidency of Roger Pickles it was resolved to change the Association from a coercive ‘closed shop' type to service delivery organisation. This meant repealing the monopolistic Tendering By-Laws and the check-off facilities for Trade Unions in the Industrial Councils as well as the ‘closed shop' provisions. Again this was a first in the building industry in South Africa and introduced a paradigm shift. The Association was threatened with an expulsion from Membership of the National Federation of which it was a founder member in the media.
The representivity levels of all the Trade Unions in the building industry by the mid nineties had dropped to about 15% of the employees in the industry and after the last Agreements expired mid 1994 the two Industrial Councils withered away.
Soon after the formation of the Natal Master Builders Association during 1980 it was evident that the Association should relocate preferably to a highly visible landmark building. After a considerable search a suitable site was identified at 40 Essex Terrace in Westville. A prestigious building was constructed by Norvo Construction who are members of the Association, and was officially opened during 1985 by Mr. Radcliffe Cadman, the then Administrator of Natal. The Master Builders Centre remains a landmark visible from the busy M13 freeway. The Association subsequently also acquired another building in Westville and buildings in Pietermaritzburg and Empangeni.
During the early nineties the relationship between the Association and the National Federation became tense when a number of properties in the form of four Training Colleges and a Hostel were transferred from the Building Industry Training Scheme to the Federation. The Association was of the opinion that institutional training was to undergo a dramatic revision and assets in the form of Training Colleges would become major liabilities in the long term. The majority view within the Federation was that being an institutional training service provider was a core function of the Federation. The Association felt strongly about this and felt that the only function the Federation should have in respect of institutional training was that of a facilitation and co-ordination. The differences of opinion became pronounced and tense at times but in the end the strong views held by the Association were vindicated when the Federation had to alienate these properties at a great loss.
After the demise of the two Building Industry Industrial Councils the Association successfully entered the business of the administration of employee benefits such as Provident, Pension and Holiday Pay Schemes. Pieter Rautenbach, the Executive Director of the Association received the BIFSA Presidential Award of Excellence for his life time contribution to the affairs of the organised building industry in South Africa particularly in respect of the Association. He relinquished the position as Executive Director of the Association at end of April 2007 having served in that capacity for 32 years.
Prior to the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910 two other Builders Associations were established in the then Colony of Natal namely the Pietermaritzburg and Vryheid Builders Association. These two Associations along with the Durban Association were federated into a Natal Colonial Master Builders Federation during 1904.
Although the idea was sound it was too early for implementation. The Colonial Federation and the Pietermaritzburg and Vryheid Associations ceased to exit.
Mr. Harry Collins of Pietermaritzburg did however play an active role in the affairs of these organisations while they existed.
It was only at the end of the first World War in 1918 that an Association was again formed in Pietermaritzburg. Four generations of the Barris and Hall families were to play an active part in the affairs of the Pietermaritzburg Master Builders Association.
An Association was formed on the lower South Coast during 1973 and existed until 1980 when it was incorporated into the Natal Association during 1980.
Brandon Abdinor became Executive Director on 1 May 2007 and within months the Association won an Award of Commendation for Communication from the Institute of Retirement Funds of South Africa. The contract for the Inspection Audits of the NHBRC for the KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Northern Cape Cluster was secured during October 2007.