Die ekonomiese ontwikkeling en invloed van die Elektrotegniese Aannemersvereniging (S.A.), in die Suid-Afrikaanse ekonomie, 1948-2000
Bester, Susanna Jacoba
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In the South African economy the existence and role of associations pertaining to occupation and profession can, as viewed from a historical perspective, be considered as one of the least researched themes. In August 1997 the History Department of the Potchefstroom University for Higher Christian Education started a project in connection with the Electro technical Contractors' Association of South Africa, ECA(SA), one of the main aims of the investigation being to put on record the historical development of the ECA(SA). The project has since developed into a fully-fledged research project which includes a decision to determine whether the ECA(SA) in its capacity as national occupation related association has played a major role in the electro technical industry during the years between its foundation in 1949 and the present year, 2000. Apart from focusing on occupation-related associations, this study also revealed a number of questions with regard to the country's development historically. One of the questions that arose was whether or not the associations played, or are still playing, a decisive role in uplifting the country's economy and education, for example training which would result in professionalizing which in turn would improve production and levels of education. A study of this nature is very valuable in the sense that it contributes to a better understanding and evaluation of the role of occupation-related associations in the historical development of South Africa. For the purposes of this study special attention was paid to the electro technical industry, which is representative of a micro-level approach, while macro trends are referred to in as far as the impact exercised by such trends on the electro technical industry was or still is significant. The methodological approach, which was implemented, can also serve as direction indicator for related studies in future, the eventual outcome of which would be the possibility of conducting research of occupation-related associations on comparative and evaluative levels. Secondary publications on the economic history of South Africa are not particury elucidatory about professional associations. Useful sources in this regard are J.A. Jackson, Professions and professionalization (1983); J. Louw, Profesionalizing Psychology (1988): C.l. Gilb, Hidden Hierachieves: The Professions and the Government (1978); B. Wesner, Operating Employee Association (1985). Since the nineteenth century valuable contributions to the national development has been made by the electro technical industry, especially within the organised structure of the prominent professional association in the building industry. Shortly after the Second World War (1939-1945), increasing expertise, work opportunity and involvement of a growing number of experts led to the founding of a national professional association for electrical contractors, in 1949. This study has made it clear that the ECA(S.A.) has made an essential contribution to the national electro technical development down to 2000. Supply and installation of electricity as a necessary service fixed the focus on greater expertise and speciality in a fast-changing technological world. This has contributed to the establishment of the ECA(S.A.) as a leading role player in the infrastructural development of South Africa. The narrative history of the ECA(S.A.) as a professional association can not, as the study shows, be separated from the socioeconomic history of South Africa. It also forms part of business history. Within this framework present historiographical aspects such as affirmative action, mentors, collective bargaining, career path and workers and product safety are discussed. The objective of this study was to stipulate the historical development of the ECA(S.A.) as a professional association. The study also defines the contribution of the ECA(S.A.) to the technocracy and professionalization of the electrical industry as service supplier to the consumer in South Africa. The contribution in respect of work creation, in-service training and capacity building in the electrical industry is also referred to. Additionally, the true nature of professional associations is stipulated as well as the specified mission of such an association. (See Chapter One) The drawing up of a national code of practice for guaranteed payment to sub-contractors was a special form and guarantee with which the ECA(S.A.) provided its members. In Chapter One the roles of professional associations is briefly discussed from within the history of mankind and in particular the Industrial Revolution. A few similarities between trade unions and professional associations are discussed. The changes in the economic structure from home industries to factory systems lead to the fact that the electro technical industry had a prominent place in advanced infrastructure enforcement societies. Chapter Two concentrates mostly on the origin and development history of the ECA(S.A.) between 1949-1955. As part of this the problems the ECA(S.A.) had with double membership with the MBA(S.A.) are discussed. Chapter Three focuses on the manner in which the ECA(S.A.) promoted professionalization within the electro technical industry. In order to do so the ECA(S.A.) was a founder- member of the National Apprenticeship Committee. The ECA(S.A.) also drew up a Code of Conduct and reviewed the tender and contract conditions. Chapter Four links up with Chapter Three in which the ECA(S.A.)'s devolution from the MBA(S.A.) since 1955 till 1977 is discussed. In its pursuit of total independence the ECA(S.A.) did not get the full co-operation of the Building Industries Federation (BIFSA). DE affiliation from BIFSA followed in 1972. With this the ECA(S.A.) developed its own character and style to recruit new members and to professionalize the electrical contractor's industry. The period between 1978 and 1994 is described in Chapter Five - including the continued professional and industrial development of the ECA(S.A.) as independent association till the new political order of 1994. As part of it the ECA(S.A.)'s involvement in the revision of a guarantee payment to sub-contractors is discussed. Hereby played an important role in the protection of ECA(S.A.) members as subcontractors. Chapter Six (1995-2000) focuses on the ECA(S.A.)'s adaptation and acceptance within the new political order that came into being during 1994. The empowerment of black electrical contractors and the responsible implementation of affirmative action are indications of the ability of the association to adjust to the new system. Chapter Seven serves as a recapitulation and evaluation to discuss this historical development and contribution of the ECA(S.A.) as a professional association of electrical contractors in South Africa. The contribution and influence of the ECA(S.A.) on the technocracy and professionalization of the electro technical industry receives attention.
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