Workplace privileges still reserved for whites - CEE Commission

JULY 14, 2016

South Africa's workplaces reflect a picture in which the privileged continue to enjoy advantages in accessing opportunities, said Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) Chairperson, Tabea Kabinde.

Addressing a stakeholder engagement session with the Manufacturing Sector on employment equity issues, Kabinde said there was no movement at top management of new people. She said the people at top level who were moving were being recruited at top levels elsewhere. 

The Manufacturing Sector engagement was held today at Saint George's Hotel in Irene. The stakeholder engagement sessions are hosted by the Department of Labour and the Commission for Employment Equity. The first engagement session was held last month with the Retail and Motor sector. 

The engagements are planned to be held with business leaders from the various sectors. 

This follows the continued slow pace of transforming the South African labour market, where designated groups are still confined to the lower levels in the workplace.

During the launch of the 16th CEE Annual Report, Labour Minister, Mildred Oliphant promised that the Commission for Employment Equity will embark on engagements with business leaders of the various sectors to establish what causes the snail pace of transformation in the workplaces.

The aim of the sectoral engagements is to consult business leaders or their representatives (managers, human resource officers, EE officers among others) on employment equity issues. The CEE is interested in establishing challenges that employers face in employment equity implementation and strategies so as to overcome them.

The Commission for Employment Equity is a statutory body established in terms of section 28 of the Employment Equity Act. Its role is to advise Labour Minister on any matter concerning the Act, including policy and matters pertaining to the implementation of the EE Act.

The 16th CEE Annual Report found that after 18 years since the enactment of the Employment Equity Act, the top and senior management positions in the workplace are largely still occupied by white people.

The make-up of manufacturing sector in terms of the national economically active population (EAP) in terms of population group(s) and gender is as follows - Africans constitute 77,4 percent (male 42,1 percent; female 35,3 percent), Coloured (male 5,4 percent; female 4,6 percent), Indian (male 1,7 percent; female 1,0 percent), White (5,6 percent; female 4,3 percent).  

In terms of workforce profile at the top management in the Manufacturing Sector, the White group constitute 73,5 percent for all genders compared to African group at 6,9 percent for all genders. Foreign nationals sit at five percent. 

The disproportionate situation is the same in terms of recruitment and promotion, where the White group still dominate in comparison with other population groups. 

Kabinde said this situation reflects entrenched trends. She said training trends in the sector shows that skills development was being extended mainly to the training of white males, and this paints a wrong picture. 

"Through the engagements we want to find out why transformation is not happening at a rate we want. We have not been honest in our engagements on transformation matters. We need to pick your brains how to change the picture. Perhaps we need a policy change and new best practices in order to transform," she said.

Out of the engagement today the Commission has identified among areas of concerns issues such as: skills development, extending of skills pool, ownership and skills development are inseparable, that transformation is easy to implement in a booming economy, stereotypes and poaching. 

The Commission has concluded that it will look at mindset change, strategies to develop skills, and criminalise non-compliance. 

More engagements are planned to be held later this month up until September 2016 with sectors such as Finance, Catering & Accommodation, Mining & Quarrying, Wholesale, Construction, Transport, Educational Institutions and Local Government.

All engagements will include Sector Education & Training Authority (SETA) and trade unions operating in that particular sector. All the planned engagements will be held in Gauteng with the exception of one that will be held on 04 August 2016 in Cape Town. Venues of the other engagements will be confirmed in due course.

The next stakeholder engagement will be held in Gauteng Province with the Finance sector on July 21.