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Labour Minister Oliphant lauds Woolworths stance to address equity in the workplace

by lloyd last modified 2012-09-07 15:42

7 September-2012

Labour Minister, Mildred Oliphant, has commended Woolworths, the JSE Securities-listed retail group for its unwavering effort to genuinely address transformation in the workplace through the implementation of employment equity (EE).

Oliphant said it was important to highlight that Woolworths was amongst the number of large designated employers listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange (JSE) that have been subjected to the Director-General Review process in terms of sections 43 to 45 of the Employment Equity Act, 1998 in 2009.

“During this process like any other employer that was reviewed, Woolworths committed itself to transforming their workplace by implementing their Employment Equity Plan as approved by the Director General. Subsequent to that, as part of the Department’s monitoring mechanisms, Woolworths was amongst those companies that were followed up in the 2011/2012 financial year to gauge progress made against the objectives they committed themselves to their approved Employment Equity Plan.

“Interestingly, Woolworths generally progressed well towards achieving race and gender equity at their workplace as per their own EE numerical goals and targets set in their own EE Plan consulted and agreed to with their employees,” Oliphant said.

“There are companies that are genuinely addressing transformation in the workplace through the implementation of employment equity and Woolworths is one of such companies”. 

“However, there are those that hate to see integration in the workplace and society in general, they seek to find fault with those that genuinely implement employment equity as a means of addressing our painful past and imbalance in our society. As Government of South Africa and those that seek genuine transformation, we shall continue to encourage companies like Woolworths to continue with the transformation and integration of the society,” Oliphant reiterated.

Labour union Solidarity this week launched a campaign to boycott Woolworths after the retail giant ignored its set deadline to remove advertisements, which the union claimed are racist towards white job seekers.

Last year, the Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) that advises the Minister on matters of EE cautioned at the release of its annual report that it will take more than 129 years to transform the workplace to reflect South Africa’s demographics judging by the snail pace of transformation. 

The 2011 CEE report showed that Top Management and Senior Management positions were still dominated by White people in South Africa while Black people were stuck in the lower rungs in unskilled and semi-skilled jobs, in comparison to their economically active population (EAP). Figures from the 2012 CEE report also indicates that there maybe not much deviation from this preponderant situation.  

Oliphant said issues of workplace equality in South Africa are not only constitutionally imperative but also they seek to address the country’s painful past.


Issued by: Page Boikanyo

                Departmental Spokesperson

                082 809 3195


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