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Analysis of the Commission for Employment Equity’s Annual Report

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

The slogan on the cover of the 14th annual report of the Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) reads: “turning over a new leaf against all odds”. Unfortunately, it is clear that the commission has not turned over a new leaf. As in previous years, the report is again confused and even misleading, trade union Solidarity today said. Since 2007, the trade union has critiqued the commission’s reports, yet the reports remain filled with errors.

The Solidarity Research Institute (SRI) today released its critical analysis of the CEE’s latest report. According to Paul Joubert, senior researcher at the SRI, it is unfortunate that the commission reinforces misperceptions rather than elucidating the dynamics of the labour market for the Minister of Labour and the public, as it is supposed to do. “Affirmative action is a highly sensitive issue in South Africa. For this reason, it is important that policy on this matter, and the implementation thereof, should not be influenced by misconceptions. Therefore, the duty falls to the SRI to each year compile a critical analysis of the CEE’s reports,” Joubert says.

The CEE again focuses mainly on top management level despite the fact that employees at this level constitute less than 0,5% of the 5,6 million employees covered by the report. “The commission bemoans the high percentage of white men at this level, ascribing it to resistance to racial transformation. However, there are several objective reasons why the percentage of white men at top management level is still relatively high,” Joubert explains. “Apart from big differences in academic qualifications and different age profiles among population groups, the small number of top managers per firm is another factor that explains the relatively high percentage of white men in those positions. For example, a firm with only two top managers, one of whom is white, could only achieve black representation above 50% by taking the drastic, impractical and unfair action of dismissing the white person,” says Joubert.

One of the significant mistakes repeated in this year’s report is the CEE’s incorrect interpretation of its own figures on appointments and promotions. “For example, the commission refers to the fact that 41,3% of employees at senior management level are white men, and that at the same level white men constitute 36,2% of appointments and 28,9% of promotions. The CEE then compares the figures with the proportion of white men in the economically active population, concluding that white men are still extraordinarily favoured in terms of appointments and promotions. In reality, the figures indicate that the representation of white men at senior management level, and indeed at all levels, is steadily decreasing,” Joubert says.

Joubert believes that although the data in the CEE’s reports are not completely unusable, the SRI’s critical analyses show that the CEE’s interpretation of its own data cannot be relied upon.

Click to here the Solidarity Research Institute’s Analysis of the Commission for Employment Equity’s Annual Report.

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