Then new Employment Equity Amendment bill

The Amendment to this bill, signed by the President in April, sets five-year sector targets for each province, (and national targets for employees operating nationally), that prescribes demographic and gender targets for companies that employ more than 50 employees.

The Employment Equity Act aims to redress the imbalances of South Africa’s past. The idea is to move towards reflecting the country’s demographics in the workplace. The Amendment to this bill, signed by the President in April, sets five-year sector targets for each province, (and national targets for employees operating nationally), that prescribes demographic and gender targets for companies that employ more than 50 employees.

These targets involve top management, senior management, professionally qualified and skilled levels. They also include employees with disabilities. Compliance certificates (issued by the Minister of Employment and Labour) for employers in good standing, will be required for any company applying for government contracts.

The economic sectors affected in this amendment are:Provincial targets

  • agriculture
  • forestry and fishing
  • manufacturing
  • mining and quarrying
  • construction
  • financial and insurance activities
  • transportation and storage
  • information and communication
  • water supply
  • sewerage
  • waste management and remedial activities
  • electricity
  • gas steam and air conditioning supply
  • human health and social work activities
  • arts
  • entertainment and recreation
  • real estate activities
  • professional
  • scientific and technical activities
  • wholesale and retail trade
  • repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles
  • accommodation and food service activities
  • public administration and defence
  • compulsory social security
  • education and administrative and support activities

TO SEE THE TABLES OF THE PROVINCIAL TARGETSCLICK HERE.

While the largest trade union federations support this amendment bill, many commentators and role players have questions and concerns, (including court challenges and possible constitutional breaches), especially around the methodology used to arrive at these targets. UnemploymentThere are also fears that this move will hamper economic development, thereby increasing poverty, unemployment, and inequality. Statistics show that Black unemployment has grown since the implementation of race-based policies. ( Stats SA’s 2022 fourth quarter (Q4) Labour Force Survey ). Instead of helping the poor, it could instead hurt them by discouraging investment, growth, and jobs. Experience has shown that these “quotas” make the rich, richer, and leave the poor sinking further into poverty.

Poverty

And the Constitutional principle of non-racialism is also at risk here. How do employers assess the race of their employees, other than these employees self-identifying? Should the private sector adopt the public sector racialism seen when SAPS Commissioner Jackie Selebi kept a police post open rather than promote the “wrong” race?

Most fair-minded South Africans acknowledge the urgency needed to correct the unfair labour practices of our past. But this new amendment has resulted in more questions than answers. At the moment it seems to be a blunt instrument being used to deal with a sensitive issue that affects every working person in South Africa.

Most South Africans agree that the unfair labour practices of the past have to be corrected.

 – Written by Leslie Hurst –