Labour transformation remains sluggish, notes report

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi has bemoaned the slow transformation of South African corporates in the last 20 years.

The Minister made the remarks following the release of the 2019 Employment Equity Report by the Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) on Tuesday.  

The report, presented to reporters by CEE chairperson Tabea Kabinde, painted a bleak state of affairs.

Statistics released by the CEE revealed that 65.5% of top management positions were occupied by the White group; followed by the African group (15.1%); Indian group (9.7%); Coloured group (5.3%), while Foreign Nationals filled the remaining 3.4%. Of these, males occupied 77.7% in the private sector and females 22.3%.

The White group, reveals the report, filled 54.4% of positions in senior management, followed by the African group at 23.2%. The Indian, Coloured and Foreign National groups followed with 11.1%, 8.0% and 3.3%, respectively.

“This report to me says there has been little transformation in the workplace since the passing of the Employment Equity Act 20 years ago, which means our country is not moving on transformation,” Nxesi said.

Chief among the Minister’s concerns was the stagnation in transformation in the middle-to-upper levels.

“This cannot continue. That’s why our people keep asking us what liberation we are talking about when economically, things remain the same. This unhealthy situation flies in the face of an inclusive economy,” Nxesi said.

Lack of transformation and employment equity, he said, will have to be tackled head on through a number of strategies. These include the setting and regulation of sector targets as an alternative to self-regulation.

Presenting the report, Kabinde said the CEE noted that there continued to be an overrepresentation of the White group – both male and female – and the Indian group and in top and senior management at the occupational level.

She however said the biggest shift had been recorded in the skilled level.

“Here we see quite a shift. The most transformation has happened at this level. We are seeing that in terms of demographics, we are moving much quicker,” Kabinde said.

Even here, she noted, Indian and White groups were still overly represented.

In its key observations, the CEE said there is a need to prioritise increasing the representation of African and Coloured groups in key occupational levels. The commission in the report also notes that the setting of workplace targets by employers is not achieving the intended purpose of the Employment Equity Act.

Furthermore, the CEE said the increase in the representation of African and Coloured groups in the middle-to-upper levels appears to be marginal, at about 1%.

“In fact, the representation of the African group shows a drop of approximately 1% at professionally qualified level from 2016-2018,” Kabinde said.

The CEE said it had recorded a 1.2% increase in the number of EE reports received from 27 163 in 2017 to 27 485 in 2018.

At least 44% of reports received were from Gauteng, followed by 20.8% from the Western Cape, 15.1% from KwaZulu-Natal and 5.6% from Mpumalanga.

Of the reports received, 18.0% were from the manufacturing sector, followed by 13.4% from agriculture, 13.2% from wholesale trade, 11.5% from finance & business services and 9.8 % from construction.

About 27 490 reports were received covering 7 415 876 employees in 2018, with 95% of them received from the private sector. –