THE trade union Solidarity on Monday decried the draft regulations of the recently amended Employment Equity Act as “not rational and unconstitutional”, and vowed to challenge them in court if they were not changed.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant published the draft regulations in the Government Gazette on Friday and gave the public 30 days to comment on them.

The proposals include a section clarifying the requirement of equal pay for work of equal value.

The most controversial clauses delineated when employers should use national or regional demographics to determine their employment equity targets.

Solidarity CE Dirk Herman said the proposals were “absurd” as they were not workable, and undermined the constitutional principles of equality and dignity.

According to t he draft regulations, a designated employer employing 150 or more employees should use the national economically active population to determine equity targets for the upper three levels (top and senior management and the professionally qualified) of its workforce. For skilled technical, semi-skilled and unskilled, employers should use regional demographics.

A designated employer with 149 employees or less should use the national economically active population for the upper two levels of the workforce (top and senior management). In the professionally qualified, skilled technical and unskilled regional demographics should be used.

Mr Herman said the result of applying these rules would mean preferential appointments of Africans to top positions. This would be to the detriment of Indian and coloured minorities who in effect would no longer be beneficiaries of affirmative action.

He said “regional” was undefined and could refer to the immediate environs of a workplace, a city or a whole province.

The question of regional versus national demographics has been a contentious issue in the Western Cape where coloured people are about 52% of the workforce. B ut the Department of Correctional S ervices, for example, has used national demographic targets — 79.3% African, 8.8% coloured, 9.3% white and 2.5% Indian — when drawing up its equity plans.

The Labour Court ruled in October under the old act that the department had to use both national and regional demographics.