Labour minister vows to get tough on employers not meeting equity targets

27 August 2019 - 16:46 By ERNEST MABUZA
Labour minister Thulas Nxesi says SA needs to address the deeply rooted inequality in the labour force.
Labour minister Thulas Nxesi says SA needs to address the deeply rooted inequality in the labour force.
Image: Esa Alexander

Labour minister Thulas Nxesi has vowed that his department will be "hard" on employers who do not meet their employment equity targets.

Nxesi sounded the warning after receiving the Commission for Employment Equity's 19th annual report, which showed that whites continued to be the dominant group in top management positions, despite being among the lowest economically active population group.

The report was presented by commission chair Tabea Kabinde on Tuesday.

The commission submits an annual report to the labour minister on the state of employment equity in SA.

Employers are obliged to annually submit their employment equity reports to the labour department on demographic profiles, gender representation and employment equity plans on how to address discrimination and inequity in the workplace.

The report stated that black people constituted 78.8% of the economically active population, followed by coloured people (9.6%), white people (9%) and Indian people (2.6%).

The economically active population includes people from 15 to 64 years of age who are either employed or unemployed and seeking employment.

It is used as a benchmark to help employers in the analysis of their workforce to determine the degree of under-representation of the designated groups in the workforce.

The 19th report said white people held 66.5% of top management positions by population group.

It found that black people constituted 15.1% of the top management population in 2018, up from the 14.3% the previous year.

Coloured people constituted 5.3% of top management while Indian people represented 9.7% of managers. Foreign top management remained unchanged at 3.4%.

Kabinde said men comprised 76.5% of top management positions and women 23.5%.

The report revealed that the black population group comprised 63% of the skilled working population, followed by whites (18.5%), coloureds (11.2%) and Indians (5.4%).

Accepting the report, Nxesi said the objective of employment equity was to eliminate discrimination at work.

"We also expect that when some employers are slow to reform, that activism by the workers and their unions will help nudge the process of employment equity in the right direction," Nxesi said.

He said the department would do more analysis of the report.

"We are going to be very hard on employers. We know some people will ask questions like 'why do we only begin being hard on employers when it is a time of crisis'."

"The reason that we focus on employment equity is because we need to address the inequality which is deeply rooted and all statistics show that as SA, we are doing very badly," Nxesi said.

The commission received 27,485 employment equity reports during the 2018 reporting period, covering 7,415,876 employees.

This was up from the 2017 reporting period, where 27,163 employment equity reports were submitted.

"This represented an increase of 320 reports and an increase of 116,447 employees as compared to the 2017 reporting period," the report said.

The majority of the reports came from the private sector (26,113), while the rest came from government, state-owned enterprises and educational institutions.

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