Cosatu slams Parliament for failing to pass equity law

Parliamentary counsellor Matthew Parks

Parliamentary counsellor Matthew Parks

Published Sep 14, 2021


Cosatu has lashed out at Parliament for failing to form a quorum in order to pass the Employment Equity Amendment Bill.

The labour federation also took a swipe at the ANC for showing “weak leadership (by) not providing the necessary numbers to enable the passing of the bill”.

“This is an indictment on all political parties and their leadership in the National Assembly,” parliamentary counsellor Matthew Parks said.

“The ANC on its own can provide the necessary quorum for the National Assembly to vote and adopt legislation. This reflects weak leadership and ill-discipline amongst the ANC Caucus in the National Assembly.”

The DA did not escape criticism after it walked out when the bill was up for a vote last Thursday, resulting in 188 MPs voting, short of the 201 simple majority.

The bill was introduced to Parliament in July 2020. The employment and labour portfolio committee finalised its report in August after holding public hearings in April.

Parks said the deliberate boycott and walkout by some DA parliamentarians and a few other parties were testimony to their opposition to transforming South Africa and protecting the rights of women, Africans, coloureds, and persons with disabilities who continued to face discrimination in their workplaces.

“The leadership of the National Assembly needs to get its house in order, to urgently reconvene the National Assembly and ensure that MPs do what they are paid to do by workers, for example, attend sittings and vote on legislation that will improve their lives,” he said.

The bill seeks to empower the minister to regulate sector employment targets after consultation with sector stakeholders and advice of Employment Equity Commission.

Companies doing business with the state will be issued with compliance certificates. Those that employ less than 50 will be exempted with certain admin processes but be expected to eliminate all forms of unfair discrimination in employment policies and practices.

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said the bill represented part of a continuous task to transform the labour market and society that were marked by the legacy of colonialism, apartheid and patriarchy.

Nxesi noted that since the inception of the Employment Equity Act, the pace of transformation had been frustratingly slow and inequalities of African women and persons living with disabilities were not addressed.

“In top and senior management levels, Africans accounted (for) 15.8% and 24.7% of all positions whereas whites occupied 64.7% and 52.5% at both top and senior management.

“Women represent only 24.9 % and 35.7%. (Of) great concern is representation of people living with disabilities, (at) around 1% of (the) total workforce,” he said.

Nxesi said self-regulation had not worked.

But, DA MP Michael Cardo said the bill was a job-destroying jackhammer.

“It is a blunt and brutal tool handed carelessly to the minister of employment and labour, so that he might wield the workforce into a shape the ruling party deems racially acceptable.

“The ANC will have you believe this bill is a weapon of transformation. In truth, it is a weapon of economic mass destruction,” Cardo said.

He warned that its repercussions would reverberate for generations to come, bringing unwelcome aftershocks to an economy in upheaval.

“The ANC looks at the upper echelons of management in the private sector, as opposed to the public sector, and gasps in horror at their complexion,” Cardo said.

The EFF’s Constance Mkhonto said women, youths and people living with disabilities were the majority discriminated against by employers, without any form of protection.

She said sectors were dominated by men, and the higher echelons were occupied by white men while women and youth dominated informal, seasonal and temporary jobs.

Political Bureau