Printing SA CEO Driving Effective Dispute Resolution At Statutory Council South Africa


Printing SA CEO Steve Thobela was recently elected chairperson of the Statutory Council of the Newspaper, Printing and Packaging Industry of South Africa. In this latest position, Thobela sees his role as impacting on dispute resolution, which he believes can be proactively managed and even minimised through effective communication and training of the different role players.

The secretary of the Statutory Council, Terry Moodley, congratulated Thobela on his appointment. ‘Having untarnished integrity and an in-depth understanding of the industry, Mr. Thobela epitomises exactly what we were looking for in a chairperson. As a member of the Council, he has displayed good financial acumen and is able to lead and inspire others. We look forward to having him at the helm, steering the organisation to meet its mandate as a registered (Department of Labour) and accredited (CCMA) Statutory Council. His integrity, expertise and visionary leadership will ensure that the Council will continue to serve its members, including employer organisations and trade unions, effectively and efficiently in a challenging and evolving labour market,’ said Moodley.

‘The Labour Relations Act encourages industry self-regulation through Bargaining and Statutory Councils and as such the Printing, Newspaper and Packaging Industries established the Statutory Council in 1999, which was then registered in terms of Section 42(a) in 2000. Its purpose is to ensure speedy and effective resolution of disputes,’ said Thobela.

Thobela believes that disputes need to be resolved speedily, with the resulting awards being of a high standard and quality.

He also wants to see members use the Statutory Council more than the CCMA. ‘The CCMA is used by all sectors, whereas this statutory council is part of the printing and packaging industry, and would therefore reduce the load at CCMA while increasing the pace at which disputes are resolved in our immediate industry. Labour relations play an important role in both the stability and the success of industry in South Africa. It’s important to stop poor labour relations, which then put a serious dent in the economy. Poor labour relations also result in losses of jobs and even closure of companies. With the rate of unemployment being as it is, we can hardly afford further losses,’ he explained.

He added, ‘As the new chairman, I will also prioritise ensuring that the Statutory Council continues to fulfil this purpose by guaranteeing proper corporate governance, financial viability and good working relations among all stakeholders.’

Thobela’s tenure as chairman continues for a year after which he has the option of making himself available for re-election at the 2018 Annual General Meeting.

Thobela joined Printing SA as deputy CEO in January 2014 and a year later was appointed CEO upon the retirement of his predecessor. He took the helm at a time when the industry was grappling with challenges, which he continues to work tirelessly to alleviate.

Thobela completed a one-year certificate in agricultural management at Funda Mlimi Agricultural Training Centre after matriculating at Tswaing High School in Winterveldt.

He went on to do his Technical Training N1 at Manu Technical College and N2 and N3 at Pretoria West Technical College. This overlapped with his studies for his Christian Ministry Diploma at Port Elizabeth Bible College.

He began his career in the printing industry as an apprentice typographer in a trade that was known at the time as composition theory, completely by chance. Composition theory has since been replaced by electronic origination.

Even during his earliest days, his academic and leadership abilities came to the fore and he won an award for the second best apprentice in the country for his National Certificate N2 and was elected the regional chairman of the Media Workers Association of South Africa (MWASA).

Over the years, he has worked in the print production departments of the Pretoria News, Perskor, the Sowetan and The Newspaper Printing Company (TNPC) before becoming Operations Manager of Independent Newspapers in the Western Cape.

After completing his Christian Ministry Diploma, Thobela founded and pastored the Grace Berean Church Soshanguve, the Grace Berean Church Montana in Cape Town and the Grace Berean Church Tshepisong in Krugersdorp.

He also continued his studies, obtaining his Business Management Certificate from the University of the Witwatersrand and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Newport University through the South African study centre Executive Education. He also recently completed his Master of Business Administration at Regents Business School.

In addition, he served for four and half years as the founding general manager of one of three of Nelson Mandela’s official charity organisations, The Mandela Rhodes Foundation in Cape Town. At around that time, he was also appointed to the board of Oxford University Press.

Prior to joining Printing SA on a full time basis, Thobela served as director of print production at the University of South Africa, Unisa.

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