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Solidarity heads to court in bid to amend affirmative action laws

16 September 2019 - 10:09 By Dan Meyer
Trade union Solidarity will ask the courts to oblige government to put in place changes to the Employment Equity Act recommended by an SAHRC report.
Trade union Solidarity will ask the courts to oblige government to put in place changes to the Employment Equity Act recommended by an SAHRC report.
Image: 123rf/ niroworld

Trade union Solidarity wants the government to change the country's affirmative action laws.

The union will ask the labour court in Johannesburg on Wednesday to request that  government implements recommendations made by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in a report nearly 18 months ago.

The report suggested that certain aspects of the Employment Equity Act did not comply with constitutional or international conventions, stating,“ the Employment Equity Act’s definition of designated groups is not in compliance with constitutional or international law obligations”. 

The union believes the recommendations could end affirmative action in its current format.

Solidarity COO Dr Dirk Hermann said in a statement on Sunday that the report recommended that “affirmative action be applied in a more nuanced way; that the need and socio-economic indicators must be taken into account; and that the way in which affirmative action is now applied gives rise to a practice of race quotas”.

In chapter 1 the SAHRC report states that 'special measures are now misaligned to constitutional objectives'," he said.

“Where special measures are not instituted on the basis of need, and taking into consideration socio-economic factors, they are incapable of achieving substantive equality.

“Government has not made any changes to the Employment Equity Act yet, despite the country’s human rights watchdog having found that its un-nuanced racial approach is unconstitutional,” he said.

“To persist with this without trying to have the findings set aside is contemptuous of an institution established by the constitution and is in contempt of the constitution itself,” he charged.

He further explained that the 60-day period in which government could have taken the report on review to challenge its claims had long since lapsed.


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