Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi. Picture: Henk Kruger/ANA/African News Agency
Johannesburg - Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi has vowed to punish private-sector companies which intentionally block qualified black professionals and those with disabilities from assuming top senior positions in firms.

Nxesi made this pledge on Tuesday after receiving what he described as a “worrying report about transformation in the workplace” which showed that black and coloured workers in the country were the least considered for senior jobs in the private sector, compared to national and local governments.

The annual report was tabled by the Commission of Employment Equity (CEE), headed by recruitment specialist Tabea Kabinde.

It showed that, among other things, white employees continued to hold senior positions in the government despite only 9% of them in the country’s population being economically active compared to the 79% of working blacks.

The report also gave a breakdown in the estimates of people said to be professionally qualified in the country, showing black individuals were at 40% compared to the white individuals at 37.4%.

The report, however, found that private companies, despite these telling figures, consistently recruited white people to senior positions.

It also established that discrimination also affected people with disabilities.

Kabinde has appealed to Nxesi to force the government to boycott conducting business with big corporates if they continued to exclude black people from top management and senior managerial positions.

The report further stated that Indian workers who constitute 2.6% of economically active people occupied 5.3% of top management positions in the country.

Coloured professionals constituted 9.6% of economically active people, but only held 3.4% of top management positions in the workplace.

“The representation of the white population group in the private sector is nearly eight times their economically active population (EAP) of 9% and in government, their representation is 8.9% which is more aligned to the EAP. The private sector employs more foreign nationals than government at this occupational level,” the report said.

Kabinde also expressed concern about the private sector choosing to give top management position to people with disabilities who are mainly white.

The report showed that African males with disabilities in top management positions constituted 10.2%; coloured males 5.0%; Indian 12.3% and whites 45.6%. Females - African 4.6%; coloured 4.0%; Indian 5.0% and white 11.5%.

“Employers who employ persons with disabilities are mainly from the white population group,” the report found. Nxesi expressed concern about “the pace of transformation in the workplace” and promised the government would be forced “to resort to hard measures to ensure transformation did take place in the workplace.

He said those companies that did not want to implement the Employment Equity Act introduced 20 years ago “must face the music”.

“We are not just talking about a single solution, but a range of solutions to deal with problems in the economy and workplace.

“A critical area of EE Act amendment is the review of Section 53 that will require the issuing of an annual certificate of compliance to organisations doing business with the State and its organs,” Nxesi said.

He said the government would be employing more labour inspectors to ensure the private sector companies were adhering to the equity.

Political Bureau