‘Scrap employment equity’

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LabourCrossing Reuters.

Johannesburg - Racial transformation in the national government’s 38 departments has been achieved and employment equity (EE) policies no longer need to be strictly applied, trade union Solidarity says.

The union, which believes affirmative action should be a temporary measure, said yesterday that according to its analysis, the racial composition in the public service was virtually identical to that of the economically active population.

A report by the Solidarity Research Institute says 74.8 percent of national government employees are black; 10.8 percent are coloured; 2.2 percent are Indian; and 12.2 percent are white.

“This means that even by the government’s obsession with racial counts, broad race representivity has already been attained in the public service,” senior researcher Piet le Roux said.

Although the government has admitted that affirmative action is more advanced in the public service compared with the private sector, it is unlikely that the law will be amended or scrapped any time soon.

During a debate of President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address, he said the government would intensify its affirmative action policies after the May 7 general elections.

The government has come under criticism from those who say that employment equity only benefits a few, and that the economy cannot continue to be run by a minority.

And although Solidarity could argue that numbers show racial transformation has been achieved in national departments, affirmative action is also about mentorship and career development.

Data in the Solidarity report recognises that there is a variation when considering skills profiles and occupational categories across the population.

Solidarity, which has a number of court cases pending against the government for what it believes is the unfair treatment of its members through affirmative action, says the government should be stimulating economic growth through other methods. It also believes the government is acting unconstitutionally by applying the law.

“The constitutional objective of broad representivity in the public service in terms of section 195(1)(i) of the constitution, as well as the objective of ‘fair’ representation in terms of section 2(b) of the Employment Equity Act, have been achieved. A rigid continuation of race-based transformation of the public service could only be possible by acting outside the constitutional mandate of broad representivity,” Le Roux said.

According to the eight-page report, an analysis by race in the 38 departments shows that African and coloured groups are represented in accordance with the 2012 fourth-quarter Labour Force Survey. Indians are slightly underrepresented and whites slightly over-represented.

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