The budget: What it means for the automotive aftermarket

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Tito Mboweni’s budget has been welcomed as considerably less harsh than expected. In fact, it contains several pieces of good news. According to Pieter Niemand, MIWA National Director, the personal tax relief provided by the budget is particularly noteworthy, especially given the financial pressure that most South Africans face. Pieter is also pleased that citizens will not be expected to foot the bill for the vaccination programme. The 1% reduction in corporate tax is further reason to feel positive, as is the fact that VAT has remained unchanged – but, says Pieter, consumers will face other challenges in the form of increased fuel levies, carbon tax, and sin taxes, which are certain to affect their disposable income.

Here are some of the ways the budget will affect you:

  • No increases to personal or corporate tax.
  • Personal income tax brackets have been raised to provide relief to middle and lower-income earners. So, people who earn R87 300 per year will now find themselves in the tax-free bracket, which gives them R756 extra.
  • The reduction in corporate tax, from 28% to 27%, may help to bring down unemployment.
  • ‘Sin tax’ – applied to beer, whiskey, and wine but excluding sorghum beer – is set to increase by 8%. In practical terms, this means that a pack of 20 cigarettes will cost R1,39 more, and a bottle of 750ml will be R5,50 more expensive.
  • The fuel levy will increase by 27c per litre for fuel and diesel, placing pressure on consumers due to the added transport costs and increased prices across a range of goods and services.
  • Government’s consolidation of the fiscal position will be aided by the move to cut public wages by R303 billion over four years.
  • The social grants budget is set to be cut by 2.2% over the next three years. However, the number of beneficiaries is expected to increase to 300 000 over this period. Monthly social grant payments have been adjusted as follows: 
    • A R30 increase for the old age, disability and care dependency grants to R1 890. 
    • A R30 increase in the war veterans grants to R1 910. 
    • A R10 increase in the child support grant to R460. 
    • A R10 increase for the foster care grant to R1 050. 
  • R7 912 billion has been allocated for the repair and replacement of ageing infrastructure.
  • R83.2 billion has been set aside to fund employment programmes, along with R11 billion for the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative. It is hoped that this R94.2 billion will help to address the country’s unemployment crisis.
  • Employment and job creation may receive a further boost with the Department of Small Business allocating R4 billion to township and rural enterprises.

Non-compliance poses a risk to the motor vehicle repair industry

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Increasing financial pressure means that many consumers are forced to seek cheaper options when it comes to vehicle maintenance – often to their detriment.

This has become clear as non-compliance with industry regulations emerges as a growing issue. The extent of this growing industry challenge was highlighted in January when the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Traffic Department conducted a raid on the CBD. The department impounded 29 vehicles and issued 86 fines (46 of which were for unlicensed, unregistered vehicles, 20 for vehicles parked on the sidewalk, and 20 for obstruction). The raid was prompted by obstructions caused by workshops that have been carrying out mechanical work in the road, and spray-painting on the sidewalk.

Dewald Ranft, MIWA Chairman,  applauds the action taken by the traffic department and notes that it is vital in order to protect consumers from workshops whose lack of compliance can lead to complications in the long run. 

WIPCORP grading: Where do we stand?

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It’s been nine months since MIWA appointed WIPCORP Project Management to grade our members. 

Since then, a number of member workshops have been subject to unannounced audits, with WIPCORP assessing workshops according to criteria like tooling, administration, housekeeping, business premises, and occupational health and safety into the criteria. 

Added to this, workshops must adhere to seven mandatory fields before they receive their grading:

  • Does the business operate out of bona fide premises?
  • The establishment must have at least one fully qualified motor mechanic in its full-time employ.
  • Defective workmanship insurance.
  • Does the business premise have a grease trap/oil separator?
  • Compressor, and pressure equipment register?
  • Hoist (two or four posts)
  • Lifting equipment (hoist 2/4 post, engine cranes, trolley jacks, hydraulic pumps, gearbox hoist) register

The audit is conducted by service partners who have been given a tablet, which has a purpose-designed app allowing interaction with the member and which syncs information onto the WIPCORP system, automatically generating a report about the exercise. Workshops have 14 days to correct any problems noted in the Initial Audit Outcome Report and may apply for a seven-day extension if necessary. Once corrections have been made, the workshop’s score is adjusted and the member receives their final grading certificate.

According to MIWA’s Pieter Niemand, the grading process is working well and has been warmly received by most members. Although some members have experienced the unannounced audits as challenging, these are proving an important and informative exercise. For example, the process has made it clear that most workshops’ health and safety documentation is not up to date, usually because members do not have registers for compressor and pressure or lifting equipment. WIPCORP has provided assistance where necessary by providing members with templates for registers.

While the rollout has, for now, focused on Gauteng, MIWA and WIPCORP are preparing to extend the programme to outlying areas and other provinces from March, starting with KwaZulu-Natal.

R2R Tier 1 sponsor: Autoboys

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Every month, we introduce you to the proud sponsors of Right to Repair. This month, the spotlight falls on Autoboys.

Established in 2010, Autoboys provides automotive glass, parts, and paint solutions to the insurance industry as well as body repair shops, mechanical workshops, and individual customers. We service over 290 insurance partners, 70 outlets, and 169 fitment vehicles. 

With African Rainbow Capital as our majority shareholder, Autoboys is South Africa’s only national glass and parts provider to have a Level 1 B-BBEE rating. Autoboys’ focus on technology, sales, parts matching, forecasting, fitment expertise, and customer service has further seen the business leading the way by unseating many entrenched providers in South Africa. Autoboys also partners with many top brands, including the likes of GlasWeld, Nexa Autocolour, Norton by Saint Gobain, Mahle, and TRW.

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Filum Ho, CEO of Autoboys and Vice-Chair of Right to Repair.

Filum Ho, the CEO of Autoboys and the Vice-Chair of Right to Repair, believes that organisations such as Right to Repair are crucial when it comes to levelling the playing field in the local automotive industry. That’s why Autoboys is a Tier 1 member and vocal supporter of Right to Repair South Africa (R2RSA).

Ho says: “Having worked in the SA automotive industry for the past 15 years, I am extremely proud to be part of Right to Repair. In these economically challenging times, we all need to play our part in helping build an inclusive economy that creates jobs. Many studies have shown that SMEs account for more than 60–70% of all jobs in most developed countries. I fully support all and any efforts to create a free competitive economy that nurtures the development of these businesses.”

Beware water damage

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While South Africa’s dams may be welcoming the rains brought by Cyclone Eloise, motorists’ cars certainly aren’t. Puddles of rain left on the road can impact vehicles in many ways, particularly if it affects the engine control unit or gearbox control unit. For example, if water enters the electronic components, the engine is likely to stall; similarly, if water is sucked into an engine, it can cause a hydro lock, which causes expensive damage to the engine’s inner working.  

Here is some advice you can offer your customers, to help their cars weather the rainy season:

  • Don’t let the water collect under your wipers, as it may drip into the car’s engine control unit, causing engine damage. Cleaning under-cowl panels and water draining systems can help prevent this.
  • Slow driving on wet roads can prevent dangerous aqua-planing.
  • Be wary driving over puddles, which may be deeper than you thought.
  • Fast-flowing low water bridges are a potential hazard. A car can be swept downstream by just six inches of water.
  • Watch out for potholes caused by rain, which can damage your vehicle rims, tyres, and alignment.
  • Keep your headlights on when driving in rain or mist, switching on your hazard lights if visibility is especially poor.
  • Rain and slow driving go hand in hand. Remember to increase your following distance.

Driving with dogs

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Gone are the days when people locked up their pets, without even a goodbye, before leaving the house. Nowadays, animals accompany us everywhere from lunch arrangements to holidays – which means they’re spending more time in our cars. While some might be content to sit quietly on the back seat, many prefer to make the most of their time in the vehicle, whether that’s sitting on their owners’ laps while driving, lying in the back in a manner that obscures the rear view, or sitting on the front seat with their heads out the window. All of these behaviours can put drivers and their passengers at risk, as does travelling with an unrestrained cat or bird. Although there are no laws regulating how pets should travel, safety is certainly something pet-loving drivers should consider. 

That’s why MIWA recommends leaving pets at home unless absolutely necessary and, if there is no other choice, purchasing a harness or barrier from a pet shop. This will ensure the pet’s safety in the case of an abrupt stop, while also making sure that they don’t cause distractions. Drivers should remember that most pets find travelling in a car uncomfortable, so if a long journey is unavoidable, it’s wise to try some practice runs to get them used to the vehicle. It’s equally important to make the journey comfortable for the pet, by including water and toys and taking regular breaks. Drivers should take their pets for a check-up before leaving for a holiday, using the time to ask the vet about health issues specific to the area and making sure that all vaccinations are up to date. Finally, a collar and microchip are vital in case the pet gets lost.

Covid and sick leave

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Although we have been held siege by the pandemic virus for a year, many employers are still unclear about how they should handle coronavirus cases in the workplace. We hope to shed some light on the most common concerns, but remember that if you have any further queries, RMI will be happy to provide advice.

One of the questions employers most frequently ask is: what to do if an employee has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid? In these instances, the employee is required to quarantine for 14 days, after which they may return to work if they remain symptom-free. The employee will not require a medical certificate, as there will be no sign of infection

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Photo: Anna Shvets, Pexels

If, on the other hand, an employee absents himself because he is displaying Covid symptoms, he will have to isolate for 10 days. This period is shorter than quarantine because it is presumed that the four days required for symptoms to present have already passed. The employee should present a medical certificate when he returns to work.

Finally, if an employee advises that they are experiencing symptoms while at work, they should be sent home and continue with self-isolation for 10 days. A medical certificate is not required, because the instruction to be released from duty was issued by the employer.

Although medical certificates may not be required from a legal point of view because of the potential impact on the employee’s salary, it is advisable that the employee provide a Covid status certificate on their return to work. Proof of a positive status may serve as a substitute for a medical certificate in all cases. 

In terms of payment, a medical certificate is not required for the first two days of absence. If a certificate is presented, payment must be made for the days of absence. This may take the form of the usual payment for sick leave if there is existing sick leave available. If the employee is a member of the Sick, Accident, and Maternity Pay Fund, the usual claim must be submitted to the Fund. If the employee does not produce a medical certificate but advised the employer of the need to quarantine or isolate, the employer should apply to the UIF Fund on behalf of the employee, helping make a claim of Reduced Working Time. Please note that the UIF Temporary Employee Relief Scheme (TERS Fund) is no longer available for such cases. Finally, if the employee appears to have contracted the virus while at work, they can make a claim to the Rand Mutual Association under the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act. 

If you feel that a case is unclear, it’s best to err on the side of caution, remembering that, as an employer, you have a duty and responsibility to look after the health and safety of your employees. An employee who gets a few days of unwarranted sick leave is a far lesser threat to the business – and to your community and other employees – than one who is forced to work while ill. That said, you are within your rights to ask for proof of illness.

Podcast:
Jacques Viljoen, Regional Manager at the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), discusses what employers and employees should know about sick leave during Covid-19.
Listen to the #OFMBusinessHour podcast here!

Fighting pandemic fatigue

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It’s been a year since the first case of Covid was announced in South Africa. During that time, we have endured circumstances many of us would have considered unimaginable – and the strain of this, combined with the constant threat of infection or, worse still, grief at having lost loved ones, has brought about a deep sense of fatigue. Finding a way to fight through this feeling is vital, however. Our vaccination programme may be gathering traction, but we’re still likely to be held hostage to the virus for many months to come. These tips may help:

Go easy on yourself. When you understand that there’s a reason you feel this way and that it’s rooted in science, you may find it easier to accept. Simply put, after a year of operating in a state of what psychologists call heightened arousal, your body is feeling the effects of long-term stress. This explains why you may be experiencing brain fog, poor short-term memory, or other symptoms of anxiety. 

Congratulate yourself for what you have already overcome – because it might not feel like it, but there have been moments worth celebrating. Simply making it this far is a case in point. At the same time, acknowledge your grief and anxiety. Making room for these feelings may make them easier to bear.

Adjust your expectations. In the pre-Covid world, you may have been a more patient parent (or even person) – but back then, you weren’t dealing with major stress every day. 

The rules from the beginning of lockdown still apply: routine and boundaries will help you feel as though you have a measure of control in a world that now seems unreliable and unpredictable. 

Remember that this time will pass. One day, you’ll marvel at the fact that you have lived through a historic episode. This may help to give you perspective, and may also provide the strength and motivation you need to keep going.

MIWA in the media, February 2021

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MIWA has enjoyed solid media coverage this month, with mention in several publications. Click on these links to find out what we had to say:

Brakpan Herald
Watch out for those water puddles – your car will thank you

Knysna-Plett Herald
Jump-start it right

Southern Courier
Watch out for those water puddles – your car will thank you

Spring’s Advertiser
Keep you and your pets safe while traveling with these tips

Brakpan Herald
Deal with vehicle rust issues immediately

Autoforum
Watch out for those water puddles

From the Director’s Desk, February 2021

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Amidst all the tension and anxiety currently in the news, the one thing that really stands out for me is the resilience and ‘can do’ attitude of the motor industry. We all know that we often sit sandwiched between Eskom, Covid-19 restrictions, and statutory compliance restrictions. Yet, in spite of all of this, our members find a way to improvise, to read, and to operate within this challenging environment.

We are already more than halfway through our financial year and are managing to successfully weather the Covid storm.  Our grading and training are going well; our new member recruitment is growing and our media presence has never been higher. This month we had a record number of placements in daily and community media. 209 media placements were achieved. This translates to a potential viewership of 3 502 663 readers seeing and hearing about our MIWA brand. 

Thank you all again for keeping our flag flying high and for leading by example. I hope you enjoy our February newsletter.

Pieter Niemand, MIWA National Director