Workplace privileges still reserved for whites: commission

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South Africa’s workplaces reflect a picture in which the privileged continue to enjoy advantages in accessing opportunities, says Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) chairperson, Tabea Kabinde.

Addressing a stakeholder engagement session with the Manufacturing Sector on employment equity issues, Kabinde said there was no movement at top management of new people.

She said the people at top level who were moving, were being recruited at top levels elsewhere.

The 16th CEE Annual Report found that in 18 years since the enactment of the Employment Equity Act, the top and senior management positions in the workplace are largely still occupied by white people.

The make-up of manufacturing sector in terms of the national economically active population (EAP) in terms of population group(s) and gender is as follows:

  • Africans constitute 77.4%
  • Coloured 10%
  • White 9.9%
  • Indian 2.7%

According to the CEE, whites account for 73.5% of top management positions in the manufacturing sector, compared to 6.9% for black South Africans. Foreign nationals account for 5.0%, the CEE said.

“The disproportionate situation is the same in terms of recruitment and promotion, where the white group still dominate in comparison with other population groups,” the report said.

Kabinde said this situation reflects entrenched trends. She said training trends in the sector shows that skills development was being extended mainly to the training of white males, and this paints a wrong picture.

“Through the engagements we want to find out why transformation is not happening at a rate we want. We have not been honest in our engagements on transformation matters. We need to pick your brains how to change the picture. Perhaps we need a policy change and new best practices in order to transform,” Kabinde said.

During the launch of the 16th CEE Annual Report, Labour Minister, Mildred Oliphant promised that the Commission for Employment Equity will embark on engagements with business leaders in various sectors to establish the slow pace of transformation.

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