The Hypocrisy Of Labour Legislation

In unpacking the multitude of instances concerning discrimination in the workplace, it is significant that Michael Bagraim (Daily News, June 5) fails to note the unconstitutionality of demographic representivity and the fact that the Byzantine nature of labour legislation is in itself the major factor retarding the expansion of employment opportunities.

Nowhere in relevant sections of our constitution (9, 195 and 217) is the phrase “demographic representivity” used regarding employment and procurement. Instead, the emphasis is on individuals – not groups. As such, the constitution does not state that employment must reflect the demographics of a region.

Yet adherence to demographic representivity is enforced thereby tragically illustrating the law of unintended consequences, namely,  the emigration of skills as minorities are effectively barred from employment, reluctance on the part of employers to expand employment opportunities and mediocrity in the workplace.

Thus, Bagraim’s article is a monument of contradiction.  While noting the removal of “barriers” for “categories” of those previously disadvantaged and the stringent measures against unfair discrimination, elsewhere he states that “employment practice which discriminates against race….would be unfair.”

The contradiction not only in Bagraim’s account but in the legislation is that discrimination is discrimination and when it is applied against individuals from minority groups, particularly whites, it is absolute hypocrisy.

This is especially the case where individuals who are white and who either came on the job market since 1994, or who were born since that date, are marginalised and discriminated against in terms of employment, promotion and procurement. Labour policies premised on history instead of market realities do not promote economic growth. Our sputtering economy attests to that.

The bald reality is that despite all the blandishments about non-racialism, job reservation, once again, is legally in vogue.  The only way to end racial discrimination, as US Chief Justice John Roberts has stated, is to stop discriminating on the basis of race. And the only way to do that is to embed merit as the sole criterion in who qualifies for a post, a promotion or in procurement. Significantly, only one political party nailed the principle of merit to its mast in the recent election and that was the Freedom Front Plus.

Sent into The Daily News and published, 6 June 2019.

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