Friday, December 12, 2008

Seasons Greetings from the Kwazulu Natal Master Builders Association


The Kwazulu Natal Master Builders Association would like to take this opportunity to wish our Staff, our Members and our Suppliers, Seasons Greetings. We trust you have all managed to weather the current global economic storm and that you already have your eyes set on a prosperous 2009.

The blogging team will be taking a break from today, but you can expect regular updates to resume on the 12th January 2009.

A reminder that our Offices and the Exhibition Centre will be closing at 4pm on the 23th of December and will re-open again on the 5th January 2009. If you are going to be on the roads over the Festive Season, please drive carefully.

Brandon Abdinor
Executive Director

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Legal Check - Part 5 "Form Work and Support Work"


The "Legal Check" series will assist Members to do a quick, yet accurate legal check, to see if there is compliance with the requirements, as prescribed in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 85 of 1993.

The items featured in this series, are those that are the main contributors to accidents in the Construction Industry.

Part 5 "Form Work and Support Work" - Construction Regulation 10

1. Competent person appointed in writing to supervise form work and support work.

2. Competent person appointed to examine and inspect form work and support work.

3. Inspected daily, before, during and after placement of load.

4. Up to date register available on site.

Competent person - means a person having the knowledge, training, experience and qualifications specific to the work or task being performed.

Look out for Part 6 "Lifting Machinery and equipment", which will be featured next year.

Neels Nortje
Health and Safety Manager

For back copies of the "Legal Check" series click on the Health and Safety label on this blog.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Health Warning - Cholera


As many of you may be aware, there has been an outbreak of Cholera in Zimbabwe. Reports have started filtering in this week, suggesting that some areas of South Africa may also be effected. Although these reports are unsubstantiated, we thought it may be useful to provide some general information about Cholera to you and your Employees.

WHAT IS CHOLERA?

It is an acute intestinal infection caused by the consumption of food or water contaminated with the Bacterium, Vibrio Cholorae. It is normally prevalent in countries without safe water and proper sanitation, where the disease can spread very rapidly.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CHOLERA?

Some people contracting Cholera may not show symptoms. However, one in 20 experience:
  • SEVERE, DIARRHOEA CAUSED BY THE INFECTION OF THE INTESTINE AND DEATH WITHIN HOURS
  • NAUSEA AND VOMITING
  • MUSCLE CRAMPS
  • DEHYDRATION – Signs of Cholera Deyhdration include, Irritability. lethargy, sunken eyes, dry mouth, extreme thirst, little or no urine output, low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat
  • SHOCK
Signs and symptoms in children. Children generally have the same symptoms as adults, but could also experience:
  • Extreme drowsiness or even coma
  • Fever
  • Convulsions
CAN CHOLERA BE TREATED?

Cholera can be simply and successfully treated by immediate replacement of the fluids and salts lost through diarrhea. Prevention, however, is better than cure. The following guidelines were sourced online (Wikipedia.com):
  • Sterilization: Proper disposal and treatment of the germ infected fecal waste produced by cholera victims (and all clothing and bedding that come in contact with it) is of primary importance. All materials (such as clothing and bedding) that come in contact with cholera patients should be sterilized in hot water using chlorine bleach if possible. Hands that touch cholera patients or their clothing and bedding should be thoroughly cleaned and sterilized.
  • Sources: Warnings about cholera contamination posted around contaminated water sources with directions on how to decontaminate the water. Don't drink surface water.
  • Water purification: All water used for drinking, washing, or cooking should be sterilized by boiling or chlorination in any area where cholera may be present. Boiling, filtering, and chlorination of water kill the bacteria produced by cholera patients and prevent infections from spreading. Water filtration, chlorination, and boiling are by far the most effective means of halting transmission. Cloth filters, though very basic, have significantly reduced the occurrence of cholera when used in poor villages in Bangladesh that rely on untreated surface water.
Marion Mclauchlan
Reception

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ABET - Adult Basic Education and Training


We have been approached by 2 training companies, who have obtained funding from CETA for ABET (Adult Basic Education and Training).

ABET, not only enhances workplace skills, by enabling workers to undertake things that literate persons may take for granted (e.g. reading instructions), but also improves the everyday lives of people unable to read, write or do simple arithmetic.

It is hard to imagine the difficulties one may face, by for example, not being able to count one's change, read a bus timetable or read the instructions on medicine bottles.

Members wanting more information or who wish to take advantage of the offer, should please contact us by no later that the 15th January 2009.

Bruce Lyle
Membership Services Manager

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National Credit Act


The National Credit Act came into being to stamp out reckless lending and predatory practices. Credit providers must consider not only the credit worthiness of a client but also whether they can afford to service the debt.. At the time of applying for a loan, the credit provider must do an assessment to determine whether the client can repay the loan, whether the client understands and appreciates the risks, costs and obligations under the credit agreement, and whether the granting of the loan will lead to the client becoming over-indebted.

Should any of your employees /acquaintances find themselves to be over-indebted and not able to meet their debt obligations timeously, they must be encouraged to contact a NCR approved debt counsellor in order to have their debts restructured.

Eileen Beckett
Loan Facilitator

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tax Incentives - Research & Developement


In terms of Section 11D of the Income Tax Act there are 2 types of tax incentives available, in respect of research & developement(R&D) expenditure incurred in the pursuit of certain qualified activities.

Qualified activities must be scientific or technical in nature and intended to be used by the taxpayer in the production of income.

These incentives are:
  • A deduction of 150% of the expense of qualified R&D activities
  • An accelerated allowance in respect of assets (including buildings) used for qualified R&D activities. In terms of this incentive 50% of the asset's cost may be claimed in the first year of use of the asset and thereafter 30% for the second year and 20% for the third year.
Members who may be involved in R&D should remind their accountants of the attractive incentives provided for in the Act. The above is a very brief outline of the incentives available. Members should ensure that professional tax advice is received before claiming R&D the incentives.

Greg Beykirch
Finance Manager

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Create a Website to Promote your Business (Part 1)

Photo Credit: rickvidallon (Flickr.com)

One of the most inexpensive and effective ways of promoting your business in difficult times, is by creating a Website. This task may seem very daunting at first, but understanding the following, should settle the nerves.

Where do I start?

The first step is deciding on what your Website Objectives are. These could include, one or more of the following:
  • Online Brochure of Products and Services
  • Tool to publish Company News
  • Lead Generation
  • Quote Generation
What are the Standard Elements that I should include in my website?

Once you have decided on the objectives for your new website, you need to tailor the content around these goals. Although it is ultimately desirable to distinguish yourself by having a unique website, there are certain page elements that are considered mandatory. These include the following:
  • Home Page - For a small site, this is the page that most people will open first when visiting your Website. The page should load fast, clearly identify who you are, state your Unique Selling Proposition and direct the visitor to where you want them to go - e.g.View Company Portfolio, Browse Client Testimonials, Look at Pictures of Previous Projects Completed or Complete the 'Contact Us' form.
  • About Us Page - Prospects want to know who they are dealing with. Use this page to give a detailed breakdown of all the people involved in your business - including individual and team photographs goes a long way towards breaking the digital barrier and contributes to your site and business credibility.
  • Company Portfolio - Use this page to set out what you do, where you do it and how you do it. Rather than simply listing product/service features here, try and identify unique selling points (USP's) and translate them into reasons why prospects would benefit by selecting your Company. Your USP could be price, service, experience or a unique construction method/product.
  • Client Testimonials - Converting online prospects to customers, involves building credibility. There are many ways of doing this and the end product is usually the cumulative result of all of these. However, one method stands head and shoulders above the others - Client Testimonials. This is the online version of 'Word of Mouth' advertising, and is still considered one of the best ways of advertising your product/service.
  • Contact Us - Once prospects have browsed your site, you want to enable them to contact you quickly and easily. You should include the following communication channels on the website; Telephone, Fax, Cell and Email. To prevent yourself being subjected to endless spam emails, the latter (Email) should ideally be in the form of a contact form, rather than simply listing the email address on the page. You should also include your physical address on this page as this also reassures clients.
Lookout for the rest of this series of posts, where we will be answering the following questions:
  • Can I design the website myself or should I get a professional to develop the site for me?
  • How do I choose a Web Designer?
  • How much will I pay for my Website?
  • What is a Content Management System (CMS)?
  • My Website is up - Now What?
  • How do I market my Website Online?
Gary Amstutz
Online and Commercial Manager

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Friday, December 5, 2008

Useful Links - Building Industry Related Legislation


If you need access to any Building Industry related Legislation, click here. This page contains a compendium of very useful legislation and is well worth looking at, as it contains almost all the Acts of Parliament you may need to refer to.

Bruce Lyle
Membership Services Manager

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Legal Check - Part 4 "Hazard Identification and Risk Assessments"


The "Legal Check" series will assist Members to do a quick, yet accurate legal check, to see if there is compliance with the requirements, as prescribed in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 85 of 1993.

The items featured in this series, are those that are the main contributors to accidents in the Construction Industry.

Part 4 "Hazard Identification and Risk Assessments" - Construction Regulation 7

1. Competent person appointed in writing to cause a risk assessment to be performed.

2. Risk assessment to form part of the health and safety plan.

3. Documented plan to include safe work procedures.

4. Monitoring and review plan.

5. Training and instruction of all employees.

Competent person - means a person having the knowledge, training, experience and qualifications specific to the work or task being performed.

Look out for Part 5 "Form Work and Support Work", which will be featured next week.

Neels Nortje
Health and Safety Manager

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Monthly Roundup - South Coast Division

Ray Basson (Chairman) received the inaugural
'Most Committed Member' Award

This year, the South Coast Divisional Members really started participating in the various Master Builders activities, which were organized by the new Manaba office.

The general meetings and the year end function were very well attended and our bigger Associate Members did not hesistate to assist with the sponsorship of our year end function. Once again, we really appreciate your contribution.

The 35% growth in membership over the past few months, clearly indicates that there is a need for business to have the backup of a recognized body like the Kwazulu Natal Master Builders Association.

Hans has now settled in well into the new office and has become very busy fielding enquiries from Members. These enquiries are generally about the various services offered by the Master Builders Association and specifically about the Safety services offered. Several quotes for safety consultancy work have already been sent to Members, who would like to make use of this great service offering at subsidized rates.

Hans has already drafted schedules for all the activities planned for 2009. A more detailed schedule will be available early next year, but for now you can look forward to the following:
  • An MBA golf day on 24 April 2009 at the Port Shepstone Country Club where some sponsors already indicated their support
  • A Tennis day at the Hibberdene tennis club.
On behalf of the Master Builders Association office in Westville and Hans at the Manaba office, we want to wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. May you all enjoy the rest during the Builders Holidays and for those of you are experiencing their busiest time of year, we hope you will have a good season.

Hans Stols
South Coast Divisional Manager

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Employment Law - Dispute of Rights v Dispute of Interest


In the case of Polokwane Local Municipality vs SALGB & Others (2008) 8 BLLR 783 this issue was brought to light.

The facts of this case were that the employee had been employed since 1992 as a Chief Clerk. In 1999 she applied to have her post upgraded due to the fact that there had been a gradual addition of her responsibilities to her post over the years. A more senior post was created one of the requirements of which was a B. Com degree which the employee did not have. Although she was shortlisted for the position it was awarded to someone else.

The employee then objected that the employer had failed to upgrade her position and it had failed to pay her an allowance for performing duties allocated to the higher position. The arbitrating commissioner agreed with the employee and held that the employee had committed an unfair labour practice.

The matter was however taken on review to the Labour Court which set aside the commissioner's findings. The court drew the distinction between a dispute of right and a dispute of interest. A dispute of right concerns the infringement, application of or interpretation of an existing rights contained in a contract of employment. A dispute of interest however involves the formulation of new rights such as higher wages. Disputes of rights are resolved by adjudication whereas disputes of interest are resolved by means of negotiation and industrial action if necessary.

The court found that in demanding that her position be upgraded the employee was seeking to create a new right through adjudication. The commissioner did not therefore have the jurisdiction to arbitrate the matter.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Monthly Roundup - Midlands Division


The Midlands Division of the Kwazulu Natal Master Builders Association has been through some exciting times, as we approach the end of 2008. Big Storms in November brought the end to our “Big Old” Leopard tree which was uprooted, but by an act of a 'greater one', missed our building by less than a metre. Some weeks later, we are slowly getting to the “root” of the problem and we will have all things back to normal soon.

The main drive over the last couple of months has been to improve or increase our range of services to Members. In the Midlands Division, we have implemented Safety Consulting. This is a paid service that assists members with their legal compliance, through the compilation of documentation and the implementation of various systems. The major benefit to the member, is that this is done at a significantly reduced rate. This enables the company to save, where they would normally make use of an outside consultant.

The next step in increasing our range of services to the Members in the Midlands, will be to launch a NHBRC Courier service through the Midlands Office in Pietermaritzburg. The project, which will be launched early next year, will enable Members to submit their NHBRC paperwork through our office and then we will courier this to Westville who will submit this to the NHBRC office in Durban. Members will therfore no longer need to travel to Durban to submit paperwork for houses they are building. We anticipate that this is going to be a great success and will go a long way towards increasing membership in this region.

As stated earlier our main drive is to improve or increase services to our Members. Therefore, if you have any suggestions that will help us achieve this objective, we ask you to contact us. For any other queries or questions, please feel free to contact me anytime.

Gareth Roberts
Midlands Divisional Manager

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Pension Funds - Changes to the Pension Funds Act


The Pensions Industry is undergoing a bit of a shake-up, and the State is undertaking a review of The whole industry with a view to introducing a National Social Security Fund.

The introduction of this Fund could take several years, so in the meantime, some much needed changes to the Pension Funds Act have been promulgated (on 30.9.2008).

Beneficiary Funds

Previously, the trustees could pay a death benefit to an inter vivos trust for the benefit of the dependants of the deceased member. Now this will be possible only where such trust was already nominated by the member, or where a major beneficiary agrees to this course of action.

Otherwise, payment to a Beneficiary Fund is a new option. These are similar to inter vivos trusts but are registered under the Pension Funds Act, and not at the office of the Master of the High Court.

Other changes

Section 37C of the Act now allows payment of a death benefit to the Caregiver of a dependant.

Regarding divorce orders, section 37D now introduces the “clean break” principle. This means That the Fund must give the non-member spouse a choice as to whether she/he wishes to receive a cash payment (taxable) or rather to save tax and transfer her/his benefit to another Fund (for example to a Retirement Annuity Fund).

The non-member spouse then has 120 days to make this choice, and the Fund must make actual payment/transfer within a further 60 days.

For divorces after 1.3.2009, each party will be taxed separately, in contrast to the present position where the member is primarily liable for the tax, although he/she may reclaim the non-member’s pro rata share of the tax from such non-member.

Ranking of deductions is also now prescribed: A housing loan/guarantee deduction comes first, followed by a maintenance order, followed by a divorce order.

There is no doubt that many more changes to the pension law may be expected in the run up to the introduction of a National Fund. What is clear is that existing vested rights will be protected, and that private savings through company pension funds and personal RA Funds will continue to be encouraged.

Clive Hill
Financial Services Manager

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Kwazulu Natal Master Builders - Midlands Division Braai



The first informal braai was held at our Pietermaritzburg branch office on 1 December. It is intended to hold these every 2 months so that members have an opportunity, not only to network, but also to have fun!

We will ensure that someone from the Westville office will attend each time, as this type of function is a valuable source of feedback. The braais will start at 5pm and the dress code is “come as you are”. Members are urged to attend these functions and any prospective members, are also most welcome.

Bruce Lyle
Membership Services Manager

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Master Builders Xmas Party



The Kwazulu Natal Master Builders Association, recently held it's Annual Christmas Lunch, at it's main premises in Westville. The event was held in the Atrium, one of Four Conference Venues in the Master Builders Building, and was perfectly co-ordinated by Debbie Gowar, our Conference Manager.

The speeches were kept short and staff were encouraged to let their hair down and interact with colleagues they knew and some that were new to them. This year, the NHBRC inspectors were also invited to attended the function, which led to an even livelier atmosphere.

One of the most noteworthy moments of the afternoon, was the handing over of the Long Service Awards. The Association recognises that it's staff play a pivotal role in achieving goals and it was therefore encouraging to see so many long service awards being presented. We would again like to congratulate the following staff members who received Long Service Awards:
  • Glynis Kleinhans - 5 Years
  • Neels Nortje - 10 Years
  • Petros Mtambo - 20 Years
As you can see from the Web Album above, the function was a great success and an ideal opportunity for the Association to thank Staff Members for all the hard work that they have put in this year. We can't wait for next year!!

Brandon Abdinor
Executive Director

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