SUBMISSION TO THE LABOUR SUB-COMMITTEE
Equity, rather than radical revolution has been the essence of the anti-apartheid movement within our country and beyond its borders. We have, to a large degree been quite successful on the political front. However, we are all in agreement, that on both the economic and social sphere we have not just begun! In this regard these factors of economic and social, are invariably umbilically linked, and therefore the challenge for economic equity and social equity remain two sides of a single coin.
For South African society to transform in this regard we need to ensure that the historically marginalised engendered with the requisite amount of confidence to ensure that they are their very own change agents of their very own destiny
Therefore we, as the Community chapter of the National Economic, Development, & Labour Council (NEDLAC), are firmly supportive, and unapologetically supportive of the objectives of this here Act, the Employment Equity Act, 1998.
Moreover, we recognise that the State recognises that for transformative legislation to be effectively implemented, there needs to be government partnership not just limited to monitoring purposes, but in actual assistance of the stake holders to ensure that implementation occurs in the manner the State envisaged.
By and large we recognise that the Code of Good Practice, attempts to ensure that co-planning, co-analysis, and co-monitoring occurs between employer and employee at work level. However, we are still convinced that the Code of Good Practice requires that employers ensure that these consultative forums are formed. On the contrary, the word 'should' suggests that this is not an obligation but a suggestion. This would be conducive and acceptable, if the Department of Labour had the requisite capacity, we would be convinced, that monitoring would be able to unearth any undermining of the Act. However, we believe that the essence and major objective of business is to create and maximise profit, obviously in a manner that is within the law and the mores of society. The Employment Equity Act is not an Act that assists in the maximisation of profit, on the contrary, it is an Act that could be intepreted as an Act that in a way hampers immediate profit.
Furthermore, in terms of analysis and review (Section 7.3 and particularly 7.3.1), for it to be succesful in terms of the objectives of the Act, the idea of a consultative forum becomes a core issue and therefore should be compulsory. Moreover, for monitoring to be proactive, efficient, and easy, then, the consultative forum becomes an adequate stop-gap measure to ensure that the capacity of the DOL is not over-extended.
HIV/AIDS AND GENDER ISSUES
· As the Community Constituency, we are not entirely convinced that the objectives of the Act is entirely addressed by the Act as well as the Code of Good Practice on HIV/AIDS and Gender Issues.
We hereby submit that it is irrelevant if a person is HIV/AIDS positive. For us there is no sane nor moral argument for any person or stakeholder to argue that employment equity is better achieved if we test person if they have HIV/AIDS. We hold considered opinion that any type of testing for HIV/AIDS, is easily manipulated to ensure that persons who have contracted the virus are not employed. We believe that if there are categories which can be regarded as dangerous occupations in terms of HIV/AIDS, then we could argue that there should be testing of school kids to ensure that kids do not infect one another, since kids become blood brothers and sisters, etc.
· We are equally disturbed by the recent ruling of a legal judge that pregnant women are not suitable for supervisory or positions with greater responsible. We believe that the Employment Equity Act, and particularly the code of Good Practice's fallibility in terms of eradicating discrimination from the workplace has been somewhat exposed. The need for tightening both the Act and the Code becomes exceptionally necessary for the transformation of the workforce and the development of the corporate culture and business environment. And therefore this Committee has a task to ensure that we ensure that discrimination of this nature can never be interpreted within the Employment Equity Act.
Notwithstanding, we maintain that we are more closer than apart in terms of the implementation of the Act. Further, if the above points can be addressed, the objectives of the Act can be easily satisfied, which are in the best interest of all parties, stakeholders, and interested person who believe in the transformation of our country from pariah to torch and standard bearer of the world.