EEA change will allow greater flexibility - Oliphant

Minister says employers will be able to choose between regional or national demographics

Labour Department rejects claims that Bill will cost jobs

25 Feb 2011

The Department of Labour has dismissed media reports that jobs of 1.3 million coloureds and Indians could be at risk due to the proposed labour law amendments.

This follows a statement by trade union Solidarity that about 80 percent of all economically active coloured people will have to look for work in other parts of the country. It went on to say in KwaZulu-Natal, the looming amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, which makes national rather than provincial demographics the determining factor in affirmative action, will result in about 300 000 people of Indian extraction losing their jobs.

Labour Minister, Mildred Oliphant said: "We do not know the basis upon which they arrived at these figures. If that is their view, employment equity as it stands says when implemented, regional and national demographics must be taken into account, has not caused job losses among whites. In fact, whites have been over-represented for over 12 years.''

"It doesn't matter for Africans or Coloured workers, their representation is below their economically active population. The only reason we have put the proposal on the table is because employers wanted clarity on how to implement both regional and national demographics simultaneously.

"It is important that we once again clarify the current status of the law which states that employers must take into consideration "demographic profile of the national and regional economically active population" while the proposed amendment takes away regional and national to provide the flexibility.

She said: "The consequence of the new proposed amendments is that employers will have flexibility to decide whether to use regional or national demographics.''

Oliphant said unions should remember that "this is only a proposal and if there are unintended consequences, these should be raised at National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).''

She said the statistics the department based its decision on come from Statistics South Africa.

The Minister reiterated that the claims by Solidarity are unfounded, misleading and mischievous because the proposed changes won't in anyway result into job losses by either Coloureds nor Indians.

Statement issued by Mzobanzi Jikazana, Ministerial Spokesperson, Department of Labour
February 25 2011

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