Statement on coloured jobs irresponsible, says Cosatu

2011-02-21 13:47

Statements and reports claiming that at least a million coloured workers in the Western Cape stand to lose their jobs are “irresponsible and inflammatory“, labour federation Cosatu said today.

“The Central Executive Committee of the Congress of South African Trade Unions [Cosatu] has strongly condemned the irresponsible and inflammatory statements and reports claiming that at least 1 million ‘coloured’ workers in Western Cape are going to be retrenched and replaced by African workers,” Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said in a statement.

Yesterday, trade union Solidarity said coloured South Africans in Western Cape would have to earn a living in another province if proposed amendments to the Employment Equity Act were implemented.

Solidarity’s deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann said the amendments could amount to “a massive and unfeasible social engineering programme”.

He said in terms of the amendment, the act would no longer recognise the economically active population (EAP) of a region, but only the national demographics of the economically active population.

According to Western Cape’s current demographics, approximately 29.1% of the EAP is black, 54.8% coloured, 0.5% Indian and 15.6% white.

“It would require massive shifts in the population to reflect the national demography,” Hermann said.

“It would mean that the current coloured and white EAP would have to decrease by 80% and 22% respectively, while the black and Indian EAP would have to increase by 154% and 538% to reflect the national EAP demographic profile.

Craven said Solidarity’s claim was deduced from a published draft amendment to the Employment Equity Act that stated that in future companies should employ people guided only by national, and not regional or provincial, demographics.

“It is Cosatu’s understanding that this amendment was ambiguously drafted, since no intention to delete ’regional or provincial’ or to change this clause has ever been moved or even suggested by government ministers or officials in discussions around amendments to the labour laws.

“On the contrary, the government agrees that ‘coloured’ workers are under-represented in the implementation of the act and other legislation, and the proposed amendments are intended to rectify this.”

Craven said Solidarity was acting “opportunistically” and in the interests of the Democratic Alliance.

He said the trade union was trying to instil fear amongst coloured workers ahead of the local government elections.

“Cosatu strongly condemns this irresponsible propaganda.”

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