South Africa has a well-established pay gap, with black people often getting paid less than their white counterparts and women being paid less than men in many instances.
According to statistics by the Institute for Race Relations (IRR), despite the fact that white people make up the smallest percentage in the country, their average household income has been almost three times more than that of black people between 1996 and 2016.
Goldberg Attorneys partner Andrew Goldberg says there are a number of legal options for people who are earning less than their colleagues, but who do the same work as them.
These options range from taking the employer to the equality court, the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), or the labour court.
“Refer an unfair labour practice to the CCMA, and if you are above the pay threshold, then your matter will usually land up in the labour court, or even [go] to the Human Rights ombudsman,” he told HuffPost.
“Equality courts are specialised courts designated to hear matters relating to unfair discrimination, hate speech and harassment,” he elaborated.
Over the weekend it was reported that four black presenters at SuperSport wrote a letter to management saying they were being not being paid as much as their white colleagues.
Sunday Times revealed that in a letter written by their lawyers, Xola Ntshinga, Kaunda Ntunja, Gcobani Bobo and Owen Nkumane apparently alleged that there was discrimination against black people at SuperSport, claiming that black contractors were paid less than white ones while being expected to do more work.
SuperSport has since said the matter has been “resolved”.
Sectors that provide mostly low-skilled or semi-skilled job opportunities, such as mining and manufacturing, have either stagnated or been on the decline in recent years.
IRR analyst Gerbrandt van Heerden says one of the main reasons for the persisting disparity between black and white South Africans in terms of income levels is South Africa’s poor education system.
“Young black people who reside in rural areas and in informal settlements usually only have access to these defunct public schools and therefore are immediately put at a disadvantage compared to white children and black children that live in middle-class suburbs,” he explained.
Van Heerden says this serves as a “major obstacle” for many black South Africans preventing them from acquiring “high-paid jobs in the tertiary sector”.
He also attributes the problem to stagnant pay in lower-skilled sectors, which are mainly dominated by black people.
“Sectors that provide mostly low-skilled or semi-skilled job opportunities, such as mining and manufacturing, have either stagnated or have been on the decline in recent years.”
He added: “South Africa’s economy is increasingly relying more on the tertiary sector — in other words, the economy is producing more high-tech, high-skilled and high-paying job opportunities.”