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Labour Minister tries to allay job loss fears

4th March 2011

By: Sapa

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Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant on Friday sought to allay fears that proposed amendments to the Employment Equity Act would lead to job loses.

"The issue of assessing workplace profiles in relation to national or regional demographics has been blown out of proportion," Oliphant said at an South African Clothing and Textile Workers' Union (Sactwu) conference in Durban.

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"Our intention is not to replace a regional demographic profile with a national profile as the benchmark for the profile of a workplace," she said.

Oliphant dismissed recent reports that about a million coloureds in the Western Cape and 300 000 Indians in KwaZulu-Natal were at risk of losing their jobs if the amendments went through.

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The bill was drafted by the department of labour when the government's new spokesman Jimmy Manyi was its director general.

Manyi has been under fire since a video clip was broadcast on YouTube last week of him saying that there was an "oversupply" of coloureds in the Western Cape.

On Wednesday, further remarks attributed to Manyi about Indians were published by the Democratic Alliance.

"Indians, we should be having only 3% [of positions on management]. They are sitting at 5,9%. I call it the power of bargaining. Indians have bargained their way to the top," Manyi said in an address delivered to the Durban Chamber of Commerce last year.

It has been questioned whether his attitude and comments may have impacted on the changes to the act.

Oliphant said the amendment removed the reference to both the regional and national demographic profiles to allow companies the flexibility to transform their workplace without any prejudice.

She said the amendments would still be discussed at National Economic Development and Labour Council level where a solution would be found through consensus.

"These are just proposals and there are still further processes to be followed before a final decision on this and other amendments are reached," she said.

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