SAFTU statement on Employment Equity report
The 17th report of the Commission of Employment Equity (CEE) provides further damning evidence of how little has changed since the end of apartheid in the racial composition of the highest paid jobs in society.
After 23 years of government led by an ANC, in 2016 whites still held 68% of all top management positions, down just 1.5% from 2014, while Africans’ representation has risen only slightly to 14.4% from 13.6% in 2014, and both whites and males are over-represented in lower levels as well.
While white workers continue occupy most skilled and managerial jobs, most black workers are still employed as clerks, manual workers, cleaners and security guards.
The CEE also reports that just 19 companies have been fined for non-compliance while 192 other JSE-listed companies have been referred for prosecution and are on the verge of being fined. 79 of these have not opposed their cases but 90 employers, have decided to oppose the matter.
This proves that the majority of non-compliant companies are feeling under no pressure to take employment equity seriously and are sabotaging attempts to force them to do so.
The same executives who like to talk about a “more inclusive economy” are blatantly ignoring the law and continuing to exclude thousands of black and women staff from the most senior positions in their companies.
Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant now belatedly complains that the report pointed to a “painfully slow pace of transformation in the labour market and the implementation of harsh penalties was the only way forward… It mirrors the glaring lack of appetite for transformation, especially by big corporates… It is very concerning that there are just too many JSE-listed companies that are completely ignoring the law".
ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa also admits that the report provided an instructive case of the need for radical economic transformation and that inequality will be a source of instability if not addressed.
It is incredible that the ruling party, after 23 years in which they could have transformed the labour market, only now recognises that they have failed to do so, when poor communities are already filling the streets in angry protests against their exclusion from the economy.
The fundamental problem is that the government assumed that business would voluntarily act to implement employment equity and are only now seeing this has not worked. Racism and sexism still persist, perpetuating the lack of transformation.
This is because capitalism is inherently unequal, especially in South Africa where it was built in the days of colonialism and apartheid. And the ANC leaders, in the Codesa settlement, ensured that things would remain the same and that the wealth and power of the white monopolies would not be transformed.
So the ANC cannot only now raise the alarm about the employers’ lack of transformation and the danger of social instability, when it was always clear that white monopoly capitalists were opposed to any form of transformation or policies based on the Freedom Charter and would fight tooth-and-nail to sabotage any measures to limit their freedom to maximize their profits, power and privilege.
While SAFTU will support any measures to prosecute more non-compliant employers, and urges the state to black-list and refuse to do business with them, this will not get to the heart of the problem, which is the private ownership of South Africa’s mineral wealth, finance and land and a capitalist system which is structurally incapable of delivery equity in employment or anything else.
The continued unfettered dominance of this class of exploiters lies behind all the social unrest which we see at the moment. It is this system which has created South Africa’s quadruple crisis of mass unemployment, grinding poverty, world-record levels of inequality and rampant corruption and has provoked the angry action towards it.
As SAFTU said in relation to the protests in Coligny and elsewhere, people will continue to be angry and even violent in their protests while they are excluded from economic life and denied the benefits they were promised in the Freedom Charter - a better life for all, a living wage, secure employment, good schools for their children, proper healthcare, affordable transport, leisure and holidays - which exist only for the rich mainly white minority who can pay for private services.
This is why SAFTU is adamant that we have to fight for the complete economic and social transformation of a society in which wealth and power are still in the possession of a mainly white, predominantly male, elite capitalist class and campaign for the nationalization, under democratic workers’ control of the mineral wealth, the banks or monopolized industries.
Zwelinzima Vavi, SAFTU General Secretary
Patrick Craven, SAFTU Acting Spokesperson
Issued by SAFTU, 10 May 2017