Durban - Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi said that the amended Employment Equity Act would provide more representation in senior management in companies of 50 or more people in the next five years for previously disadvantaged race groups, which includes those from black, Indian and coloured communities.
Nxesi was speaking during an engagement related to the act in Chatsworth, yesterday. Nxesi said the DA had presented a false narrative that the act would promote racial discrimination and cause some people to be removed from their positions.
The DA said it would go to court to seek a declaration that various sections of the Employment Equity Amendment Act were unconstitutional and invalid.
Nxesi said transformation in workplaces was moving at a snail’s pace.
“The Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) showed that top management is still occupied by whites, at 62.9%, followed by Africans at 16.9%. This, according to the CEE, is despite the fact that Africans constitute 80% of the national economically active population (EAP), followed by coloureds at 9.3%, whites at 8% and Indians, at 2.7%.”
Nxesi added that the CEE report said the most disadvantaged people and also under-represented were from the coloured community.
“People tell coloured communities that they will now be removed. That is propaganda. In all economic sectors white people have been overly represented. Also of concern is the minute representation of people with disabilities in the workplace.”
Nxesi said that the purpose of the Employment Equity Act was to achieve equity in the workplace. He added that having more women represented in senior management positions was part of the act.
“Women have been previously disadvantaged and they are included as part of the amendment to the Employment Equity Act.”
Nxesi said that in the advancement of elimination of unfair discrimination, the act placed the responsibility on the employer to take steps to promote equal opportunity in the workplace by eliminating unfair discrimination.
“The act prescribes that no person may unfairly discriminate, directly or indirectly, against an employee, in any employment policy or practice, on one or more grounds, including: race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, family responsibility, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, HIV status, conscience, belief, political opinion, culture, language and birth.”
Thembinkosi Mkalipi, the chief director of labour relations in the department, said the minister had the power to regulate specific sector targets.
“This will happen after the act is implemented. Companies with more than 50 employees will be given five years to meet targets. They will have to come up with their own strategy on how they meet the target.”
Mkalipi added that if companies met their targets after five years, they would be issued with a compliance certificate.
“If companies fail to meet their targets they will have to give justification of reasons for not making the target, and then only will they be given a reprieve. We will also have inspectors to check the justification of their reasons.”
Vic Joshua from Campaign Actioning Racial Equality said that he welcomed the roadshow.
“We appreciate the minister coming here to Chatsworth to present the Employment Equity Act, but we want to see equal opportunity for employment for all race groups. We don’t want to see our children leaving South Africa.”