Speech delivered by the Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour at the 22nd CEE Annual Report, Register and the Code on ha
23 June 2022

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Minister of Employment and Labour, Mr Thembelani Nxesi
Chairperson and Commissioners of Employment Equity
Director-Gegneral of Employment and Labour, Mr Thobile Lamati
Deputy Directors- General
Nedlac and Social Partners
Guests from the Media Industry
Ladies and Gentlemen

Please accept my warm greetings.

It is a great pleasure for me to participate in this significant occasion of launching the Employment Equity instruments, the New Code of Good Practice on the Elimination and Prevention of Harassment in the World of Work (“the Harassment Code”).
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Commission for Employment Equity for their hard and valuable contribution of finalising this significant policy instrument at this critical time when the workplaces and the whole society is wrestling with the scourge of gender-based violence and harassment.  
                                                                           
There is a lot of work that was done for this code to be here today, there has been a robust dialogue and cooperation between NEDLAC social partners and other relevant stakeholders. We also received technical assistance from International Labour Organisation, we acknowledge your important contribution. 

All these efforts put in this process were done with the main aim of achieving and advancing transformation in our country. Transformation is key and it needs us to work very hard. For us to achieve total transformation we need to be transparent in the process, we need honesty, consistency and commitment. 

It is significant to mention that the code is being published at the backdrop of our country’s ratification of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 190 concerning the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work and its accompanying recommendation ( R206).

South Africa is the tenth country in the world and the fourth country in Africa to ratify this ILO Convention, which is the first International Treaty to recognise the right of everyone to the world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence.

Ladies and gentlemen, I will always emphasise that we must walk the talk, we must be the change we want to see. South Africa is counted amongst the few in the world, but we do the opposite back at home. The level of Gender Based violence in our country is catastrophic and we do not seem to have a tangible solution to this heinous crime. We have lost the count of the lives we lost in the line of GBV.

I believe we all need transformation, and we must make it happen. Transformation is a process that needs everyone to play a part. We need to revisit the legislation that conflicts with transformation if we are committed in achieving equality. We need to empower the previously disadvantaged (women and persons with disabilities). The empowerment of women and persons with disabilities in South Africa is about dealing with the legacy of apartheid and transformation of society, particularly transformation of unequal power relations between women and men, and fundamental changes to institutional laws.

We must make sure that things are in order back at home before we lift the trophy at an international level.  We can take action to ensure that our laws are in line with the international conventions and protocols by effecting the necessary changes which will make us achieve the transformation we all want to see in our legislations, in particular, repeal all aspects of discrimination of any form.    

It is also about addressing gender oppression, patriarchy, sexism, racism, ageism, and structural oppression, and creating a conducive environment that enables women to take control of their lives and enabling persons with disabilities to live independently and participate sufficiently in the economy.

 Among the key issues in this regard are:
Equal access to the economy;
Equal pay for the work of equal value;
An end to violence and harassment, and sexual harassment in the workplace;
Workplace bullying and all forms of violence against women and persons with disabilities

There is another form of oppression that is happening, and it is so subtle that it doesn’t get attention. The issue of class, I’m talking about class in terms of position of power or financial power. When people are in a better position, they have a tendency of making long-term decisions that affects others in a disadvantaged way, such people are creating problems for the future generation. The system they are creating is worse than the apartheid itself. The workplaces are unbearable now because of some cultures that were created by those in power.
The consultations and negotiations are not conducted in an honest and transparent manner, but we still preach transformation. 

Ladies and gentlemen, it is very easy to talk from a position of privilege but remember the history will judge us harshly. We are living in a modern world where everything gets recorded without us even realising.

I believe you have heard from the report that we are not doing good in terms of Employment Equity. It seems like many employers do not understand the processes that needs to take place for them to achieve the Employment Equity targets. Employment Equity is not only about numbers, but there is also a process to follow before you get to the numbers. The Department is always available to assist where you do not get it right because we do not want you to do it for compliance purposes, we do not encourage malicious compliance. We want to practice the real employment equity; we want you to understand the whole concept of Employment Equity

Ladies and gentlemen, We are in the economic reconstruction and recovery process. We need to put more efforts now than ever, if we are to compete in the global economy. COVID-19 left our country and the whole world dry and seriously damaged, lest we forget the disaster that hit the province of KwaZulu Natal and weakened the Tourism sector, not to mention the number of lives lost. We need to work hard to strengthen our economy while transforming the system.

The code is available now and must be used to guide you to transform your workplaces. Be empowered, advocate for the workplace free from violence and harassment. Do not form of the statistics unless it is the positive stats.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Public register and the Code of Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Harassment in the World of Work (“the Harassment Code”) and the 22nd Employment Equity Annual Report.  This code places legal obligations on employers, Employer Organisations, employees and Labour Organisations (Trade Unions) to ensure that through consultation process in the workplace, Harassment policies are developed and adopted to prevent, eliminate and manage the impact of violence and harassment, in particular gender-based violence and harassment in the workplace.

I therefore, urge all of us; government, employers, employees and Trade Unions to use this code and work together towards creating working environments where everyone, regardless of their age, gender, race, class, background, feels protected and safe from harassment and violence.

I thank you, ke a leboga



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