CEE's report findings questionable - Solidarity

Dirk Hermann says there's an obsession with a handful of positions at top management level

Report unreliable: Employment Equity Commission and Minister differ on central facts, warns Solidarity: White males' representation in top levels dropped sharply in 10 years

Trade union Solidarity today described the latest report of the Department of Labour's Commission for Employment Equity and the Minister of Labour's statement on the report as unreliable (see here). This comes after the Minister announced today that only 16,9% of employees in the top levels and 35,9% of senior management employees are black.

These figures differ from those provided in the report, according to which black employees have 24% representation in top management positions and 33,6% representation in senior management positions.

Solidarity also called the reliability of the report's findings into question, as the progress of affirmative action is once again understated. Even though the representation of white males dropped by more than 16 percentage points at the top level and 19 percentage points at senior level over the past ten years, the pace of transformation is still criticised.

Top management also represents only 0,8% of all employees covered in the survey. In addition, the report uses the racial composition of the economically active population (EAP) as the only measure for evaluating patterns in the labour market.

According to Dr Dirk Hermann, Deputy General Secretary of Solidarity, the Employment Equity Act is clear on what measure has to be used. "The act says that compliance with employment equity legislation should be determined by considering the composition of the EAP and the pool of suitably trained persons, the impact of current and possible future economic and financial factors, as well as the number of current and expected vacant positions. Declaring that employment equity is still inadequately enforced based on the EAP alone is misleading," said Hermann. "The report's findings are therefore insufficient."

As in the case of previous reports, the "over-representation" of especially white employees in the top job levels is again sharply criticised in the latest report. "The statements are made, in spite of the Commission's reports indicating that the representation of white males at top management level dropped from 77,3% in 2000 to 60,8% in 2010.

At senior management level, the representation of white males dropped from 64,9% in 2000 to 45,9% in 2010," explained Hermann. "At the professionally skilled level, the representation of white males dropped from 37,8% in 2000 to 29,9% in 2010. The representation of white males has also decreased on the two bottom levels since 2002."

This year's report once again shows that good progress is being made regarding the representation of black employees. "In the Commission's reports, the emphasis is always placed on the top levels.

Yet senior and top management levels represent only a handful of employees and comprise only 2,7% of the 5,3 million employees covered by the survey," said Hermann. "Even if 100% black representation were achieved at these levels, it would not make a difference to poverty among the general black population."

The Minister's statement today also contained calculation errors. According to the statement, black Africans make up more than 77% of the EAP, but the actual figure is 73,6%. These types of errors cast doubt on the report's findings.

"Instead of focusing on reports that aim to determine whether or not employment equity is adequately enforced year after year, the emphasis should fall on the training of South Africans of all groups. If training were improved, attempts to control employment artificially would be unnecessary," added Hermann.

Statement issued by Dr Dirk Hermann, Deputy General Secretary: Solidarity, August 3 2011

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