Huawei pledges to increase South African staff as part of new deal

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Huawei Technologies SA has reached a settlement with the department of labour. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Huawei Technologies SA has reached a settlement with the department of labour. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
  • Huawei pledged to increase local employees to more than 50% of its labour force within three years.
  • In a 2020 audit, the department of employment and labour found that 90% of its staff were foreigners.
  • As part of a new deal, Huawei will train unemployed people.

Huawei Technologies South Africa has pledged to increase its number of local employees to more than 50% of staff within three years, as part of an out-of-court settlement reached with the department of employment and labour.

Last month, the Chinese-owned firm was served with a legal notice regarding its failure to comply with local Employment Equity regulations.

An audit conducted by the department of labour in 2020 found that 90% of Huawei's staff in South Africa were foreign nationals. According to the department, it was the worst case of non-compliance with equity regulation it had ever encountered. Huawei did not provide any reasons for its breach, the department said.

"The department has accepted Huawei South Africa’s employment equity plan which addresses the equitable representation of South Africans to above 50% within three years, especially from designated groups as defined in the Employment Equity Act," read a joint statement on Tuesday.

While the Chinese tech giant faced a fine of R1.5 million or 2% of the unit’s revenue, the parties did not reveal whether paying a fine was part of the agreement.

But Huawei did commit to providing digital skills to the unemployed through a development programme that will target candidates from designated groups, especially women and people from rural areas.

Participants would be sourced from the department's database. 

"The parties see this as a win-win, as it fosters a public and private partnership that facilitates the transfer of skills, while also addressing the issue of unemployment by creating jobs in the ICT sector," says Fikiswa Bede, the chief director of statutory and advocacy services at the department. 

ICT skills are among the competencies that are in short supply in South Africa, according to a document produced by the Department of Home Affairs earlier this year.

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