A new year brings time for reflection especially after three years at the helm. It has been really tough for all of us to watch our industry experience ongoing challenges with seemingly no end in sight. In order to move forward, however, we need to be critical of what we are doing and whether or not we are making progress to reverse the situation. Designation of structural is a major achievement and should be celebrated.
I have been asked by some members particularly when engaging with the dti or government departments, “Where is your voice”. I would like to assure you that we take our role and interests of our members very seriously. The difficulty we have had over the last year in particular is that our members are often in conflict with one another. So this year we are going to make a special effort to bring various parties together to engage and to come up with joint solutions.
From recent economic projections for 2017 we are going to continue to face low growth and uncertainty for some time. The steel industry in particular needs growth and investment in infrastructure. So my five cents worth for government is to please, Stop talking and Start Doing! Stop planning and implement. We have plenty of capacity and would like to help Southern Africa to transform, thrive and grow.
From the SAISC perspective we need to ensure we have the people who can navigate these uncertain times. That means that ongoing skills development should be a top priority. This does not always need to be an expensive or time consuming activity. The SAISC is offering a number of half day courses and shortening lecture time on others but increasing projects and assignments.
For the first time we will be introducing courses on business development including courses to assist our fabricator members with contracts. In these times of uncertainty and increasing global competition we have to use our available knowledge, resources and technology to kick start our journey back to prosperity. So please join the SAISC and its team in developing young talent in the industry.
Some good news is that ArcelorMittal advised that a contract manufacturing agreement, which is still subject to certain conditions, has now been concluded between ArcelorMittal South Africa, Highveld and Highveld Structural Mill (a subsidiary of Highveld) in terms of which ArcelorMittal South Africa will supply blooms and slabs to HSM for processing into heavy structural steel. We will keep you posted.
The SAISC has never been involved with labour negotiations other than to disseminate information from various employer bodies like the CEA and SEIFSA. Over the last few years we have been active in many forums and without weighing into the various conflicting views we cannot emphasize enough that as companies you must engage with your employees and work with your respective employer associations to bring about a positive resolution to the negotiations this year.
Good Luck and best wishes for 2017.