Case StudyTackling employment equity
An assistant buyer position was advertised internally in our company and one of our members applied. The comrade was then called in for an interview. After the interview he was told that he lacked experience for the job. The company instead employed a white retired male on a temporary basis. As a union we objected to this and used sections 20(5) and (3) of the EEA and sections 2 of the SDA as our weapons.
Management told us that there was no need to discuss the matter when we wanted it to be discussed through the EE committee. They said they had followed procedure on all steps. After a long process of debates and meetings, we then filed a dispute with the CCMA.
When the company heard that Numsa had filed a dispute on the matter, they immediately proposed that we bring the matter back to discuss it at plant level.
We then had to get our defence concrete and our facts together. It was very motivating to see that the members and even non-union members were totally behind us all the way. The members would say "this thing of employing only whites in influential positions must come to an end".
Ultimately the battle came to an end and we came out of those consultative fora victorious. The comrade was offered the job. From September 1, 2001 , the comrade started working in his office as an assistant buyer for the company. Besides getting the job, the other good news was that the comrade would:
receive a promising increment for the year 2002 have good treatment by both management and clients further his studies soon through the assistance of EE committee and Numsa. He will be doing a B.Tech. retain his Numsa membership.
The EEA Section 20 says:
(3) For purposes of this Act, a person may be suitably qualified for a job as a result of any one of, or any combination of that person's–
a. formal qualifications;
b. prior learning;
c. relevant experience; or
d. capacity to acquire, within a reasonable time, the ability to do the job.
(4) When determining whether a person is suitably qualified for a job, an employer must–
a. review all the factors listed in subsection (3); and
b. determine whether that person has the ability to do the job in terms of any one of, or any combination of those factors.
(5) In making a determination under subsection (4), an employer may not unfairly discriminate against a person solely on the grounds of that person's lack of relevant experience.
The SDA, Section 2 says:
2. Purposes of Act.
(1) The purposes of this Act are–
(a) to develop the skills of the South African workforce–
(i) to improve the quality of life of workers, their prospects of work and labour mobility;
(ii) to improve productivity in the workplace and the competitiveness of employers;
(iii) to promote self-employment; and
(iv) to improve the delivery of social services;
(b) to increase the levels of investment in education and training in the labour market and to improve the return on that investment;
(c) to encourage employers–
(i) to use the workplace as an active learning environment;
(ii) to provide employees with the opportunities to acquire new skills;
(iii) to provide opportunities for new entrants to the labour market to gain work experience; and
(iv) to employ persons who find it difficult to be employed;
(d) to encourage workers to participate in learnerships and other training programmes;
(e) to improve the employment prospects of persons previously disadvantaged by unfair discrimination and to redress those disadvantages through training and education;
( f ) to ensure the quality of education and training in and for the workplace;
(g) to assist–
(i) work-seekers to find work;
(ii) retrenched workers to re-enter the labour market;
(iii) employers to find qualified employees; and
(h) to provide and regulate employment services.
(2) Those purposes are to be achieved by–
(a) establishing an institutional and financial framework comprising–
(i) the National Skills Authority;
(ii) the National Skills Fund;
(iii) a skills development levy-grant scheme as contemplated in the Skills Development Levies Act;
(iv) labour centres; and
(v) the Skills Development Planning Unit;
(b) encouraging partnerships between the public and private sectors of the economy to provide education and training in and for the workplace; and
(c) co-operating with the South African Qualifications Authority.