State in ground-breaking agreement with Solidarity

Published Jul 6, 2023


Johannesburg - ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula said the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) had received a report on the settlement agreement with trade union Solidarity.

Mbalula said the government needed to demonstrate that the allegations put forward by Solidarity were incorrect and damaging to the brand of South Africa. Hence the need for the settlement agreement.

He said that this followed claims by Solidarity that the new regulations on the implementation of the Employment Equity Amendment Bill were biased against minority groups and therefore in violation of the Discrimination (employment and occupation) Convention 111 of 1958.

"This meeting between the Minister of Employment and Labour (Thulas Nxesi) and Solidarity was convened under the context of the national mediation processes. This is a new requirement introduced by the International Labour Organisation (ILO)," he said.

Yesterday, Nxesi said the signing of the settlement agreement with Solidarity trade union was the pinnacle in the history of social dialogue and employment equity, not only in this country but also globally, where the government and a workers' organisation with opposing policy views were able to reach an amicable settlement.

"It is important to highlight that Solidarity has been critical of how employment equity (EE) and affirmative action (AA) are implemented since the inception of the Employment Equity Act of 1998 (EEA). May I add that a number of their court cases, including those in the Constitutional Court, contributed to case law on EE and AA in South Africa?

"Most importantly, the content and substance of the settlement agreement are within the framework of the Constitution and the Employment Equity Act, which serves as a catalyst towards building confidence in the policy interventions of the government to transform the labour market and create a sustainable and inclusive economy for the betterment of all," said Nxesi.

He said that the settlement agreement was critical to demystifying and discrediting the negative perceptions created maliciously in the media about the current EE amendments and affirmative action, including the sector EE target regulations published for public comment.

"This settlement agreement comes in the midst of all the negative publicity, some court cases, and protests in vulnerable communities due to malicious and irresponsible incitement of racial divisions by opposition parties," said Nxesi.

The Mminister added that this was a ground-breaking agreement that carried material benefits at various strategic levels.

Nxesi said that after the agreement what mattered most was that it should lead to real change, more responsible behaviour from companies, and more thoughtful EE planning and implementation.

"Above all, I urge all employers to embrace EE and commit to ensuring that all the people of our country, in their diverse races and cultures, have equal access to employment opportunities and are treated fairly without any form of unfair discrimination in the various workplaces of this country," said Nxesi.

The Star