The first case of Covid-19 virus in South Africa was announced on 5 March 2020. The patient was a 38-year-old male who travelled to Italy with his wife. They were part of a group of 10 people and they arrived back in South Africa on March 1, 2020. Yesterday, 16 days later, we had 240 confirmed cases of the virus.
We in South Africa have the benefit of seeing what has happened in other countries including Italy, the UK and the USA and we must take full advantage of the warning signs we have been afforded. Our Government is taking this matter very seriously and we as citizens must all do what we can within our social and work spheres to support them and protect our country.
Our health services are not as robust as some the other countries which have preceded us and our people may be considerably more vulnerable. This makes it even more important that we try and stay ahead of the curve.
As an Industry we must do our bit to ensure that our workers are armed with accurate information on the virus and are also protected from infection. We must also be conscious of protecting all with whom we come into contact at this time.
Whilst the Government publishes rules and regulations it is often more important to address the spirit rather than only the letter of the laws or regulations and to go above and beyond to ensure the safety of all south Africans.
What are we doing:
As the Master Builders Association (MBA), our primary concern is for our people namely our MBA staff as well as our member companies and their staff. In this sense we are faced with a dual role as we both protect ourselves whilst providing advice and services relating to COVID-19 to our local building industry.
This is definitely not business as usual and it is therefore essential that we set aside some of our usual activities and services in order to focus on preparing and equipping ourselves and our members for what lies ahead.
Our Contracting members will be faced with difficult decisions in the coming days and weeks relating to the ongoing operations on their building sites and we will be doing everything in our power to ensure that they are kept well informed and equipped to make the right decisions as and when these times come.
Steps we have taken so far include:
- The communication of articles and information to members;
- Advice on protection of employees;
- Preparation of information posters for members to access at a nominal cost;
- Cancellation of social events and meetings to avoid person to person contact;
- The limitation of staff travel and direct contact with members;
- The cancellation of all air travel nationally;
- The sanitisation of MBA facilities for both staff and visitors.
What we are doing to support our members?
- We will be engaging with government around relief for our small businesses and their employees;
- We will continue to advise members on Labour relations aspects;
- Our Health & Safety team will provide advice on risk assessments and steps to slow the spread of the virus;
- We are here to assist with queries on the contractual impact such as possible delays an suspension of works;
- Our Training team will be considering how to retain certain training activities if possible whilst totally eliminating person to person contact.
At a recent Bosberaad, MBA representatives emphasized networking between members through both business and social interaction as one of the essential cornerstones of the MBA going forward. The main purpose being to create an environment where members can meet each other and benefit from the business connections made through their MBA membership. Whilst it is absolutely critical that we implement and exercise these resolutions urgently in order to sustain and grow our membership we are going to first and foremost have achieve this via social media rather than direct contact as we respond to COVID-19.
We must, without delay, implement social distancing in our MBA offices and in our dealings with members and the public. This must be done both to protect vulnerable staff, relatives, members and customers as well as to comply with Government regulations (The letter) and recommendations. (The spirit).
We intend to approach this with the minimal amount of disruption to our services to members although direct contact will need to be limited as far as possible.
In order to implement social distancing we have taken the following decisions:
- To actively plan for and institute a “Work from Home” situation as soon as possible;
- To limit staff and member person to person contact to an absolute minimum and only for extremely essential services;
- To suspend all social functions and meetings with immediate effect.
We have all been bombarded with information on Covid-19 through various news a social media platforms however the MBA will continue to keep you updated with relevant Building Industry news, articles and information. This will be transmitted by Email, WhatsApp and various social media platforms and we urge you all to keep in touch with us through any of those mediums.
Please see the links below.