No clarity yet on Equity Act

2014-07-31 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The DA is very worried about unfair discrimination against coloured and Indians, which its says may still lurk in Employment Equity Amendment Act.

President Jacob Zuma last week signed the bill into law as of August 1.

DA MP and shadow labour minister Ian Ollis said he could not yet get a copy of the accompanying demographic regulations — which will among other issues determine how workers must be employed. Sister paper Die Burger could also not find the regulations.

When Labour Minister Mildred Olip­h­ant announced the concept regulations earlier this year, they were met with vehement opposition by people as diverse as Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and Marius Fransman, the ANC leader in the Western Cape.

Ollis said a legal opinion obtained by the DA confirmed the regulations would unfairly discriminate against coloured and Indian South Africans, denying these groups of their right to equality and participation in the economy and are indeed unconstitutional.

He said the consequence of imposing national demographics as per the old regulations would set equity targets in KwaZulu- Natal — where the Indian population is seven percent — that would limit the top three levels of any enterprise in KZN to only 2,5% Indians.

In the Western and Northern Cape, where the coloured community constitutes 49% and 40% of the population respectively, but based on the old regulations, coloured people could only occupy nine percent of professional and senior staff levels in any enterprise.

Oliphant had recalled the regulations in May, and at a Nedlac it was decided that national and provincial demographics will be used to set employment equity targets.

Labour deputy director Masilo Lefika said the proposals in the Nedlac process and both the national and regional demographics were now taken into account.

The department is currently busy with a marketing campaign to announce the law.

Ollis said working regional demographics into the equation would “soften” the impact of the regulations. but he still wants to see the regulations. He said it was not good enough for Oliphant to say she has fixed the regulations. “She must table the regulations. Then we will know where we stand.” Ollis said implementing the act without finalising the regulations would serve to increase regulatory uncertainty concerning the advancement of employees for businesses across all sectors.

He said the DA supported measures to promote diversity in the workplace, but opposed the drive to enforce strict demographic representivity in employment outcomes, which could only erode business and investor confidence.

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