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Zuma reassures on employment bill

Mar 07 2011 17:27 Sapa

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Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma moved on Monday to allay fears about the draft Employment Equity Bill.

In a statement issued by the presidency, Zuma assured members of the Indian and coloured communities that government would not enact or implement any legislation in conflict with the constitution and the non-racial ethos and foundations of South Africa.

"The president met with the Minister of Labour Ms Mildred Oliphant (on Monday) to discuss proposed changes to the Employment Equity Act legislation, in particular the concerns raised by members of the coloured community."

Oliphant had assured Zuma the legislation is intended to improve the employment prospects of the designated groups, and not to make it difficult for them to obtain employment or to advance in their careers.

The changes in the act which cause concern relate to Section 42(a) (i), which states that in determining whether an employer was complying with the act, certain factors should be taken into account.

The act currently provides for "demographic profile of the national and regional economically active population (EAP)".

The proposed change in the bill states the "demographic profile of the economically active population".

"It is important to note that nowhere in the proposed change is there a proposal to remove 'regional' and leave 'national'; in fact, both 'national and regional' were removed."

The reason for removal of the two elements was that employers had been enquiring over the years from the labour department how they should implement both regional and national demographics of the EAP in their workplaces.

As a result of these enquiries, the change was being proposed.

The intended outcome of the new proposed amendment is for employers to have the flexibility to decide whether to use regional or national demographics, depending on their operations.

"These changes do not in any way affect negatively the employment opportunities for the coloured and/or Indian population.

"In fact, it makes it easier for employers to comply with the law and create more job opportunities for all the designated groups," Zuma said.

"We have a duty to work together in both the private and public sectors to ensure that employment equity legislation succeeds to correct the wrongs of the past and benefits Africans, coloureds, Indians, women, youth and persons with disability.

"Members of the public will have an opportunity to make representations to parliament at the right time," Zuma said.

Government remains fully committed to the equality clauses in the constitution, and the state will not discriminate against anybody on the basis of colour, race, religion and other aspects of diversity.

The demographic profile of the economically active population in the Western Cape, as published by Statistics SA in the Labour Force Survey of September 2009, referred to people from 15 to 64 years old who were employed as well as those who were unemployed but seeking work. It reflected that coloured citizens at 14.3% were grossly under-represented at the top management level.

The 10th Commission on Employment Equity Report released by the labour department in July 2010 also shewed that transformation in the workplace remains very slow.

The report indicated that 10 years after the introduction of the act, white men continued to hold 63% of top management positions in the private sector.

 
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