Govt withdraws controversial job equity rules

2014-05-28 00:00

CAPE TOWN — News that draft regulations for the implementation of national and regional demographics in the workplace had been withdrawn, was yesterday welcomed, but not without reservations.

In terms of the concept regulations from the minister of Labour, companies with more than 150 employees would have to apply national demographics in staffing.

This would mean that Coloured people in the Western Cape or Indian people in KwaZulu-Natal would not be eligible for jobs in their provinces despite forming the majorities there.

Business Day reported the Department of Labour had withdrawn in the National Economic and Development Labour Advisory Council (Nedlac) its suggestion that national and regional demographics must be taken into account. This means that there is no onus on employers to comply with the regulations.

But Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said yesterday in answer to a question she was still waiting on Nedlac for the report on the concept regulations. She said she would be guided by the majority and make an announcement by next week.

The concept regulations had been opposed on a broad front by the ANC in the Western Cape; the BBB, a coloured empowerment movement; the DA; unions; and the business sector.

Executive head of Solidarity, Dr Dirk Hermann, who had threatened the Department of Labour with legal action against the regulations, said the withdrawal was a victory for fairness and justice.

“Our concern was not just whether it was defensible from a legal point of view, but also whether it was morally justifiable. The minister probably got legal counsel that showed the regulations would not pass the constitutional test.”

DA leader Helen Zille said the draft regulations were still too vague about regional and national demographics and gave the Labour minister too much power to make regulations that could circumvent Parliament. She said the underlying principle was that the minister had abused her power to create an artificial society for the economy based on racial numbers.

She said South Africa needed economic growth at all costs, but such regulations would frighten off investors.

Western Cape ANC leader Marius Fransman said it was good that Oliphant had considered the concerns raised earlier.

BBB spokesperson Peter Marais said, “The ANC has this time at least kept its word.”

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