The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) condemns the race mongering attacks on Employment Equity Act Regulations by the Democratic Alliance (DA), Afriforum and other organisations who continue to deny the pain that the legacies of apartheid and other forms of racism and discrimination continue to cause to the overwhelming majority of South Africans. Employment equity is a sensitive matter for all South Africans and should be handled with the necessary care and sobriety. The pre-elections stunts of the DA and other extremist organisations don’t help anyone, except a few race baiters on social media.
Employment equity has been used by countless countries to address discrimination for generations. The reality is that for nearly four centuries the majority of South Africans: African, Coloured, Indian, women and persons with disabilities; have been unfairly denied career opportunities and equal pay for equal work. The recent employment equity report highlighting that 29 years into democracy, 62% of senior management posts continue to be held by White South Africans despite White people only making up 8% of our population should serve as a wakeup call for all properly adjusted persons.
The fact that the overwhelming majority of banking, finance, mining and other private sector managers are overwhelmingly White whilst the lowest paid staff are African, Coloured and women is an indication we need to do more as a nation. The alternative of doing nothing, as the DA and Afriforum are demanding, is reckless and little more than a ticking time bomb.
The Employment Equity Act has been in place over 25 years. The DA and Afriforum have never once taken it to the Constitutional Court despite their howls alleging its unconstitutionality.
Employment equity accommodates all South Africans, including White, Coloured and Indian workers. The recent amendments to the Act are pragmatic, based on common sense and include:
Recognising regional demographic diversity, which is important as the demographics of the Western Cape for example differ widely from those of Limpopo and thus helping to ensure all South Africans are included and allowing for regional variations.
Encouraging employers to meet their employment equity targets over the next 5 years. Employers who do not make progress need to provide reasons for this and show what efforts they undertook to meet their targets.
Requiring employers to engage with their employees and unions on workplace employment equity targets.
Companies wanting to do business with the state need to be in compliance with the Employment Equity and National Minimum Wage Acts, providing a powerful reward for companies to embrace good labour practises.
Employment equity remains a key tool to ensuring that our workplaces reflect the diversity of our communities, that all workers are afforded opportunities for growth and promotion and the full economic potential of the economy is unlocked. It would be helpful if the DA, Afriforum and other organisations offered constructive proposals on how to overcome the legacies of discrimination. Spreading fears based upon untruths and racial mobilisation is not helpful no matter how many votes it may help win at a ballot box or donations it may generate.
Issued by COSATU
For further information please contact:
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687