Committee Report on Workplace Discrimination

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Labour

12 May 2008
Chairperson: Mr T Anthony (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee Research Unit presented its summarized version of the Employment Equity/ Workplace Discrimination Report.

Committee Members placed much emphasis on some of the recommendations in the Report. Especially the strengthening the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA’s) to promote more effective skills development. The removal of ‘employment equity’ and the introduction of affirmative action sunset clauses, the improvement of representation of white women in the workforce and the lack of capacity among labour inspectors was discussed as well as the need for greater employment equity compliance. It was noted that there were huge labour inspector vacancies, largely due to poor salaries and the shuffling around of those inspectors to other government departments. 

The Report was not adopted. It was agreed that the Committee Researcher would consider the recommendations and comments made by Members and present the Committee with an edited report later that day.

Meeting report

Committee Report on Workplace Discrimination
Mr Ekhsaan Jawoodeen, Committee Researcher, presented a summarized version of the Report, which had been reduced to eight pages.

The Chairperson said that the Committee needed to focus on the Reports’ recommendations and also to focus on the importance of the implementation of time frames.

Ms A Dreyer (DA) referred to the Reports’ recommendations. She was in favour of the restoration of dignity to the people and agreed that there was a lack of capacity among labour inspectors. She referred to the recommendations regarding the importance of the role SETA’s played in advancing sector skills priorities and added that education and training was crucial. She was outspoken about Employment Equity and declared that it should be done away with, as she believed in the introduction of Affirmative Action (AA) sunset clauses. She was also outspoken about the improvement of the representation of white women in the workforce. It was a key concern of the committee to prioritize that for the promotion of equality in the workforce. 

Mr B Mkongi (ANC) commended the Reports’ introductory statement concerning the restoration of dignity to the people and suggested that the Committee use that as a baseline. The report should recognize the policy statement made by the Ministers of Labour and Education in relation to skills development. The SETA’s needed to be strengthened. He was not in favour of the introduction of Affirmative Action sunset clauses adding that a sunset clause would be seen as a buffer that would hinder transformation. Government should intervene if companies do not comply with Employment Equity. Labour inspectors were in dire need of salary increases and noted that the significant number of vacancies was due to the fact that inspectors were shuffled around to other government departments where they were being paid more.

Ms Dreyer was concerned that the Committee would not reach consensus on the issue of the introduction of an AA sunset clause and suggested that the Committee not make recommendations but rather have a ‘minority/majority report’ or neutral report.

The Chairperson said that the Committee should have one report and ruled out the possibility of a ‘minority/majority report’. The Committee would debate the issues.

Mr Mkongi said that the Committee needed to be representative of the aspirations of the people who attended the public hearings. 

Mr L Labuschagne (DA) disagreed with Mr Mkongi’s stance on the implementation of Affirmative Action sunset slauses in the workplace. Affirmative Action was put into place to rectify employment injustices but once that injustice was rectified, its purpose was served. Sunset clauses would be a means to end discrimination towards non employment equity designation groups. There was a need for redress for the mistakes of South Africa’s forefathers but the youth in the non-employment equity designated groups were currently suffering.

He emphasized the importance of not just balancing the employment equity scales but also employing skilled workers and made analogies to the Eskom meltdown. He implied that Eskom was in its’ current predicament because of its employment equity objective as opposed to hiring people of any race with the necessary skills. South Africa needed to utilize all its skills irrespective of race as well as all its resources. He requested that all youth who matriculated after 1994 be included in the designated employment equity group as they should not be punished any longer.

The Chairperson asked Mr Labuschagne if there was any clause that dealt with age regarding employment equity.

Mr Labuschagne responded that he had already put through a proposal to Parliament on the matter.

The Chairperson asked him for a copy of the proposal.

Mr Labuschagne displayed concern regarding the SETA’s. He said that skills development was of utmost importance and was concerned that the matriculation exemption rate had dropped since 1994. A sound high school education was very important.
 
The Chairperson added that the policy statement of the Ministers of Labour and Education should be included in the Report.

Mr Mkongi added that the issues of young people being included in the employment equity designated groups were discussed in the public hearings. He believed that the Report was a true reflection of the public hearings and that even though consensus was not reached on all matters; at least the Committee had interacted and made recommendations.

It was decided that the Committee Researcher would edit the Report and present it to the Committee later that day.   

Adoption of minutes
The Chairperson noted that the Committee’s minutes of the meeting held on 14 May 2008 would be adopted at a later date, as there was currently no quorum.

The meeting was adjourned.

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