Cape Town – The labour department on Monday denied reports that a million coloured people in the Western Cape would lose their jobs if changes were made to the Employment Equity Act.
In fact, the department said that the changes could see more coloured people moving into management positions in companies.
Spokesperson Thembenkosi Mkaliti told News24 that the law as it stands is “confusing” as it recognises both the economically active population (EAP) of a province and a nation.
Mkaliti said that the proposed change to the legislation would see the wording regarding provinces removed.
Trade union Solidarity’s deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann and Democratic Alliance labour spokesperson Ian Ollis on Sunday slammed the draft legislation, claiming that it would see one million coloureds in the Western Cape and 350 000 Indians in KwaZulu-Natal losing their jobs.
But Mkaliti emphatically denied this and said that coloureds are, in fact, under-represented in management positions in businesses and this is what the changes to the act plans to address.
He said there wasn’t really a problem when it came to Indians in top-level positions.
Hermann said on Sunday that the act changes “would require massive shifts in the population to reflect the national demography”.
“It would mean that the current coloured and white EAP would have to decrease by 80% and 22% respectively, while the black and Indian EAP would have to increase by 154% and 538% to reflect the national EAP demographic profile.”
But Mkaliti said that the legislation was intended to help with the enhancement of affirmative action for coloureds.
Asked why the current employment equity legislation wasn’t sufficient, the labour department spokesperson said that changes would be made to the enforcement of the laws as well.
He said the department realised there were “challenges” in implementing employment equity but that they were hoping to address this.
Cosatu’s Western Cape spokesperson Mike Louw said that he would like to know the rationale behind the legislation changes.
Louw said he believed there was an “ulterior motive” behind Solidarity raising the issue when they did and that they were being “divisive”.
“Despite the Employment Equity Act, coloureds [still] aren’t in management positions,” Louw said.