Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi. Photo: ANA
JOHANNESBURG – The Department of Employment and Labour is tightening the screws on employers who are failing to comply with the country's empowerment agenda, saying the transformation was too slow.

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said during the launch of the Commission for Employment Equity's (CEE) 19th annual report and public register for all designated employers on the status of workplace transformation in Pretoria yesterday that there had been very little movement on transforming the country’s workplaces.

Nxesi said that the lack of transformation and employment equity would have to be tackled head-on, with steps including the setting and regulation of the sector targets as an alternative to self-regulation.

“It is clear that self-regulation has not worked; we need to increase the risk of non-compliance,” Nxesi said. “When the risk of being caught is very low, many of the employers are not going to comply.”

Nxesi said the department would promulgate Section 53 of the Employment Equity Act to ensure that employers who wanted to do business with the government furnished the state with an employment equity compliance certificate.

“I believe that socially responsible corporates will welcome this. When certain groups have been under-represented in the economy, it means that certain skills are underutilised,” Nxesi said.

“We are going to start to be very harsh. The reason we are focusing on employment equity is that we need to address the inequality that is deeply rooted. All statics show that as South Africa we are doing very bad.”

CEE chairperson Tabiya Kabinde said there was over-representation of whites in management.

Kabinde said whites made up 65.5 percent of top management positions, despite accounting for 9 percent of economically active South Africa.

She said the representation of Africans was 15.1 percent, Indians 9.7 percent, coloureds 5.4 percent and foreign nationals 3.4 percent.

“There is a need to prioritise the increase of representation for persons with disabilities in the workplace,” Kabinde said. “There is also a need to increase the representation of coloured and African people. We as the commission recognise that since the inception of Employment Equity Act the law has always said employers must set their own targets, but this has not borne fruit.”

Kabinde said they would ask to approve a bill to promulgate Section 53 by early next year.

The CEE report, which studied 30 000 separate company reports covering 7.4 million employees said males occupied 76.5 percent of top management positions and females 23.5 percent.

Nxesi said one of the measures the department was adopting was increasing inspectors to check the compliance.

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