Johannesburg - Alistair Graham Smith has been appointed new executive director of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said on Tuesday."Smith is no rookie. He has been at the heart of social dialogue with various roles which have groomed him for his task at hand," she told reporters in Johannesburg.He takes over from Herbert Mkhize, who held the position for eight years.Smith was head of the Metal and Engineering Industry Bargaining Council. His responsibilities included working with the labour department, department of trade and industry (DTI), the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, and Nedlac."It is a test of his good work that this organisation has seen him fit to give him the responsibility of taking the ropes (sic)," Oliphant said.Smith also held the positions of project director at the National Labour and Economic Development Institute, project facilitator at the DTI, and project director at the Independent Mediation Services of SA.Nedlac is a forum for the government, labour, business and community organisations to deal with issues through negotiation. It is funded and run by the labour department.Smith said he was taking over at an onerous time, given the challenges in the global and local economy."More than ever now in South Africa we need to pull together as social partners in social dialogue to find solutions in a very pragmatic way," he said.