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WORKPLACE EQUITY DELINQUENTS TO BE BARRED FROM STATE CONTRACTS, SAYS NXESI

Linda Ensor | 3 May 2023


Minister warns of ‘harsh’ treatment for companies that fail to comply with Employment Equity Amendment Act


Companies that failed to comply with the Employment Equity Amendment Act, which provides for the setting of numerical targets for different economic sectors, will be barred from doing business with the state, employment & labour minister Thulas Nxesi said in the National Assembly on Wednesday.


He was one of the economic cluster of ministers who replied to questions by MPs and was asked by DA MP Michael Cardo what methodology or criteria he would use to determine the numerical targets.


Nxesi said the sector stakeholder engagements had been concluded and the employment equity numerical targets for each sector would soon be published in the Government Gazette for public comment for 30 days. A number of proposals had been made by stakeholders that were being consolidated.


“We will listen carefully,” the minister said.


The law would first be applied by using corrective measures, but if there was resistance by companies it would be applied very harshly. “If people violate the law we are going to have to be harsh, and if they are doing business with government we are going to have to say you can’t do business with government if you are violating the law. We just have to be harsh for the sake of transformation.


“We have to ensure that transformation cannot be frustrated. We are ready to fight this one, we are ready to fight because it will benefit the majority of our people, including those who are unemployed. What we cannot allow is for people to protect the privileges of the past.”


This was positive discrimination or affirmative action, Nxesi said but Cardo stated that the numerical targets were a form of job reservation and quota.


“This law is a vicious piece of social engineering and gives you [Nxesi] powers incompatible with a free-market economy and will deter investors, strangle growth and kill jobs,” Cardo said.


The minister said the aim of the act was to ensure transformation and the equitable representation of suitably qualified people at all occupational levels from the groups designated in the act. The designated groups are African, coloured, Indian, women of all races and people with disabilities.


In terms of the act, the minister may, after consulting the relevant sectors and the Commission for Employment Equity, set numerical targets for each national economic sector in accordance with the demographics of the regional and national economically active population as published by Stats SA in its quarterly labour force survey.


Nxesi said he would also take into account the latest employment equity status of the designated groups in the specific economic sectors. This will include issues such as recruitment, promotional and skills development opportunities, termination rates, economic circumstances and other dynamics of each the sectors as reported on by the relevant stakeholders in the sector during the consultation process.


‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.



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