Oliphant aghast at snails pace of transformation

Labour minister says latest CEE report shows whites still dominate senior management

Oliphant laments slow pace of workplace equity

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant has expressed aghast at the snail pace in transforming South Africa's workplace saying the ‘dark mark' calls for drastic measures from all socio-economic partners.

Oliphant said it was disturbing to note that while black people accounted for approximately 86 percent of employees covered in the latest reports analysed, they only accounted for 16,9 percent at Top management and 35,9 percent at the Senior Management level (see here - PDF).

The minister was speaking in Pretoria today (August 03) during the release of the 11th CEE Annual Report. The report reflects on the status of employment equity in South Africa covering the period from 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2011.

Oliphant said opportunities that arose as a result of staff movement in Top and Senior management levels continued to benefit the same groups that are over-represented at those levels when compared to their demographics of the Economically Active Population (EAP) - which includes people from 15 To 64 years of age who are either employed or unemployed and seeking employment.   

"The data presented today paints a bleak picture for Africans, Coloureds, in particular African women and people with disabilities whose representation stands at 0,8 percent. Clearly, this indicates pure resistance by the captains of industries in embracing change to create conducive working environments that are accommodative to all people irrespective of race, gender or disability," emphasised Oliphant.

The report shows that in terms of EAP in the country Africans account for more than 77   percent, while Coloured account for 11 percent, with Indians more than three percent and Whites more than 12 percent. 

The CEE said Whites still dominate with 73,1 percent at the Top Management level, which is nearly six times their EAP and approximately threes times the representation of the cumulative sum of Blacks combined at this level. The Whites' dominant status also prevails in other senior management and professional categories.

The report profiles the current status of employment equity in relation to workforce profile, workforce movements and skills development in terms of race, gender and disability. The main emphasis is on the four upper occupational levels which include Top Management, Senior Management, Professionally Qualified and Skilled levels.

The minister said it was important to highlight the fact that data presented indicate that White females and Indians amongst the designated groups have benefited more from Affirmative Action.

"This negates the perceptions and debates' going around that Affirmative Action is discriminatory. In fact, the data submitted by employers reconfirm that where there is a will and commitment by decision-makers in the labour market to implement Affirmative Action, this can be one of the effective tools or ways to address the imbalances and inequalities of the past," she said.  

In 2010, 18 534 reports were received and 16 698 reports were analysed covering more than 5,2-million employees. The report covered sectors which include Retail and Motor Trade/repair service; Community/Social/Personal Services; electricity, gas and water; mining and quarrying; manufacturing and; wholesale trade/commercial agents/allied services.  

The Commission said the pendulum on the representation of people with disabilities has not moved much. People with disabilities accounted for approximately 0,83 percent of the total number of employees reported by all employers in the period under review. The figure hobbled at 0,70 in 2006. The disabled representation is more likely to be concentrated at the lower occupational levels.

The report concluded that while progress over the years has been gradual and slow with Whites continuing to dominate in the three uppermost occupational levels, there were encouraging signs in this reporting period of an increase in the number of reports received.

CEE said from the sectors identified in the report - the community, social and personal services sector appear to be consistently performing well across nearly all levels, which could be attributed to the number of State employers and employees included in this sector. The worst performing sector across most levels in terms of race and gender is the manufacturing sector.

The report called for early interventions to capacitate women, people with disabilities and other designated groups to enter and progress in the job market. These should include recognition of prior learning, experience training, vocational rehabilitation, reasonable accommodation and any other training interventions, including learnerships.

The report further said an additional area of reviewing and amending the Act was the need to tighten certain provisions of the Act in order to deter employers from circumventing its intentions and purpose.

Statement issued by Mzobanzi Jikazana (Mr), spokesman for the Minister of Labour, August 3 2011

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