Companies in the Cape will be forced to impose a system of “unfair discrimination” on their staff if they have to implement the new draft regulations in terms of the Employment Equity Act, says the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The Chamber has written to the Minister of Labour objecting to the social engineering and race-based provisions in the draft regulations.
In the letter, the Chamber quotes a judgment by the Labour Court which says that not taking regional demographics in to account when promoting staff “amounted to unfair discrimination”. The matter came to court after the Department of Correctional Services used national demographics to justify its decision not to promote a number of qualified coloured members of its staff.
Ms Janine Myburgh, President of the Chamber, said that about half the population of the Western Cape was coloured but the group only accounted for nine percent of the national figure. When the national figure was used there was massive prejudice against coloured people in the Western Cape.
In the letter the Chamber said that after 20 years of democracy “we have surely reached a stage of development where the race factor should be phased out of employment legislation and not re-enforced with new regulations.”
The draft regulations make provision for an average of national and regional demographics to be applied at lower levels of management but the Chamber says this concession is meaningless because any regional profile would be overwhelmed by national figures.
It points out that even the ANC in the Western Cape has objected and said the provision was in conflict with the letter and spirit of the constitution.
In addition, the Chamber said the draft legislation took insufficient account of available skills, it entrenched race-based quotas in the work place and it imposed a new and unnecessary administrative burden on business while the department’s own administrative costs would also increase.
Ms Myburgh said the Minister of Finance had undertaken to reduce red tape and make it easier for business to operate but the draft regulations would have exactly the opposite effect.