The Black Management Forum (BMF) has responded to the reported demands contained in a memorandum handed to Sasol, following a march by the union, Solidarity, at its headquarters. In it, Solidarity makes the claim that to exclude white employees in the second phase of the Khanyisa Share Scheme constitutes a violation of the Employment Equity Act.
The BMF says economic, income and wealth inequality in South Africa remains one of the highest in the world and continues to manifest itself in a way that severely prejudices vulnerable individuals and groups based on their race, geographic location, gender and disability status. The forum added that “‘Special measures’ in the context of the labour market and the broader socio-economic transformation agenda, are constitutionally enshrined to achieve equality across groups as a precondition for the achievement of inclusive growth and socio-economic transformation”.
According to the BMF the Employment Equity Act recognizes that there are disparities in employment, occupation and income on the national labor market and that such disparities cannot be remedied simply by abolishing discriminatory laws, therefore the Act seeks to, amongst others, implement and achieve substantive equality and does so by defining ‘designated groups’ placing ‘special measures’ and affirmative action measures at the centre of its aims for equality in the employment equity sphere. The Khanyisa Share Scheme is such a special measure, rooted in the right to equality and in the need to address the injustices of the past as it relates to the labour market.
To support it’s argument the BMF refers to the South African Human Rights Commission Report 2017/2018 which states: “The disproportionate prevalence of poverty according to racial groups underscores the fact that economic inequality manifests along racial lines”, and their findings support the use of ‘special measures’ aligned with the Constitution and reconcilable with international human rights; including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which explicitly provides that ‘special measures’ be taken to ensure equal enjoyment are not considered unfair discrimination.
The Black Management Forum says the focus should be on providing solutions in ensuring that South Africans use all the tools that have been developed by the nation in achieving equality and ensuring equitable representation in all occupational categories and workforce levels as section 2(b) of the Act suggests. These measures must continue to be aligned with the Constitution and remain relevant to the context within which they are applied, and that the private sector, government institutions and the SOC’s continue to implement programmes that are coordinated, sufficiently targeted in order to achieve transformation and substantive equality.
The BMF says it is quite evident that the country has not reached the targets that the Employment Equity Act has sought to achieve despite 24 years since the advent of our democracy and as such that the demands made by Solidarity are not reasonable or fair taking all the factors of achieving an equal society into account.
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