The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes parliament’s approval of the Employment Equity Amendment Bill today.
The Employment Equity Amendment (EEA) Bill provides much needed interventions to strengthen government’s ability to hold employers accountable for their role and failures to adhere to the Employment Equity Act. Key progressive provisions in the Bill include:
· Requiring employers in their EE Annual Reports to provide confirmation that they have paid all their workers at or above the National Minimum Wage.
· Expanding the definition of disability to include intellectual and sensory-which is a long overdue correction.
· Empowering the Minister for Employment and Labour to set economic sectoral, sub-sectoral, regional, sub-regional and occupation specific targets; enabling more relevant targets for sectors, occupations and regions that are notorious for their failures to reflect South Africa’s demographics.
· Allowing for regional and sub-regional variations, which is critical, given the diversity of South Africa’s population found in different provinces etc.
· Requiring employers to consult trade unions on employment equity targets which will in return, help foster a more inclusive approach to meeting targets and supporting collective bargaining.
· Empowering labour inspectors to inspect and ensure compliance with the EE Act.
· Empowering the Minister to issue compliance certificates to employers in good standing with the EE Act and to require such certificates for companies applying for government contracts. This provision in particular, is a step in the right direction. Employers doing business with the state will be required to comply with labour laws and act in a way that supports good labour practices. Workers’ hard-earned taxes should not be used to reward abusive employers.
We call on society to resist the usual notion by pessimists who believe that treating workers unfairly is the way to growing the economy. Workers who are treated with respect, paid a living wage and whose rights are respected, have been shown by countless research to be the most motivated and thus contributing to a more productive workplace and economy.
COSATU urges President Cyril Ramaphosa to sign this bill into law speedily as it will be a critical tool for society to build workplaces that reflect South Africa’s diversity and in which all workers feel welcomed.
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