Transformation in the workplace remains slow

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pretoria - Transformation in the workplace remains slow and still has a long way to go before it reflects South Africa's demographics, says Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana.

Minister Mdladlana was speaking at the launch of the ninth Annual Report of the Commission for Employment Equity at the department's offices.

The report, covering the period 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2009, was handed to the minister on Monday by Commission Chairperson Jimmy Manyi.

According to the report, Whites who represent 12.1 percent of the country's Economically Active Population (EAP) occupy 72.8 percent of top managers in the workforce profile compared to Africans, Coloureds, Indians and Foreigners who represent 13.6, 4.7, 5.9 and 3.1 percent of the workforce profile respectively.

"What the report shows is that the battle for leveling the workforce is far from being won," said Minister Mdladlana.

Mr Manyi shared the same sentiments as the minister, saying that although progress has been made in achieving equity, not enough has been done.

"We are making progress but the pace is too slow. Although prosecutions of companies had been made in the past; this has not been enough. There are going to be a lot more prosecutions, he said.

Based on 10 580 submissions received from employers covering about three million employees focused on four upper occupational levels in terms of measuring diversity in the country's workforce, the pace of transformation in the workplace was lagging behind.

The report showed that white men accounted for 44.7 percent of promotions and 48.2 percent of recruitments. This was followed by 12.7 percent of black men receiving promotions in top management posts and 12.6 percent of them being employed.

Black women on the other hand, occupied 7 percent of recruitment while only 5.8 percent received promotions in top management. This was followed by white women occupying 17.3 percent of promotions and Indian and coloured women coming in at 3 and 2.4 percent respectively.

Regarding income differentiation, the report showed that Whites and Indians on average earn more money at nearly every level while Africans and Coloureds tended to earn the lowest at nearly every level.

The report for the first time also looked at government in comparison to the private sector. According to Mr Manyi, government has done well in the employment of African people in top management, coming in at 61.3 percent of the 74.1 percent EAP compared to the private sector only employing 12.5 percent of African people in top management posts.

"It (Government) is triumphing the private sector at every corner," said Mr Manyi.

The chairman further said the report showed that the majority of skilled people in terms of technical and academic skills were African people.

However, despite their skills, many African people remain unemployed because they are not given the opportunity to prove their worth.

Meanwhile, the minister was concerned of the drop in employment of people with disabilities, which for the 2008-2009 year accounted for 0.7 percent of the workforce in comparison to the previous years' representation of 1 percent.

"I am more concerned about the representation of people with disabilities. Attitudes have to change and barriers must be removed," said the minister, adding that both government and the private sectors needed to employ more black people with disabilities.

The Committee recommends that there be greater collaboration between itself and the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) as well as big business.

The report also recommends that there be zero tolerance on defaulting companies that must result in prosecutions. It also said that fines imposed on companies for flouting the law must be escaled to 10 percent of a company's turnover.