Withdraw Equity Act amendments - Solidarity

Dirk Hermann says Labour dept's verbal assurances are insufficient

Withdraw amendments, Solidarity demands

The trade union Solidarity called for the withdrawal of the proposed amendments to the Employment Equity Act today.

According to Dirk Hermann, Deputy General Secretary of Solidarity, the formulation of the amendments must be reviewed before it is re-released for comment.

Various stakeholders have already indicated that the amendment is poorly formulated and ambiguous. The trade union federation Cosatu today expressed its outrage at the manner in which the amendment to the law had been drafted.  

"The Department of Labour's attempts to explain the proposals are nothing more than political gymnastics," Hermann explained. "According to one of the proposed amendments to the Employment Equity Act, the demography of the economically active population alone will have to be taken into account in the application of affirmative action. The reference to regional demography will fall away."

"The Department of Labour's Chief Director of Labour Relations, Thembinkosi Mkalipi, now claims that the amendment to the act will give employees flexibility, in that they will be able to choose between regional or national demography. However, the way the amendment is formulated does not in any way make provision for such flexibility. No court will agree with this free interpretation of the amendment by the Department. If it is the Department's intention to create flexibility, the amendment must be formulated as such," Herman said.

"We challenge the Department to do more than just state what the intention with the amendment is and to formulate the amendment to read that companies can exercise their discretion in choosing which demography to use," Hermann continued. "Instead of trying to explain their intention with the poorly formulated amendment, the Department should apologise and rectify it." 

The fact is that if the demography of the economically active population is applied, as the proposed amendment states, there are one million coloured economically active South Africans too many in the Western Cape and about 300 000 economically active Indians too many in KwaZulu-Natal.

"The controversial video of Jimmy Manyi where he says there is an over-concentration of coloureds in the Western Cape and they should spread across South Africa provides the context of the proposed amendment," Hermann emphasised.

Statement issued by Dirk Hermann, Solidarity Deputy General Secretary, March 3 2011

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