The accommodation of people with disabilities within Transnet's workforce in KwaZulu- Natal.
This research describes the factors influencing the inclusion of people with disabilities within the port environment in South Africa; hence the study was conducted at one of Transnet’s major divisions, the Transnet National Port Authority. The inclusion of people with disabilities has been on the country’s transformation agenda for some time. The literature review attests to the fact that historically, people with disabilities have been excluded and this phenomenon has translated itself into the labour market. It is for this reason that the inclusion of people with disabilities within organisations became a human rights issue as stated in the South African Employment Equity Act of 2000, the Act critically foregrounds the fact that the corporate world has not to date successfully included people with disabilities in the workplace. This research has used the model of organisational inclusion to describe factors which influence the inclusion of people with disabilities. The model consists of two components, namely the personal dimension and the organisational environment dimension. Personal dimension constructs have been used to describe the influence of both personal norms and values on the inclusion of people with disabilities, while the organisation environment dimensions have been used to describe the influence of policies, procedures and organisational rewards on the inclusion of people with disabilities. A probability sample of 361 employees was drawn from an estimated population of 6000 of the Transnet National Port Authority employees in KwaZulu-Natal, using stratified random sampling. The sample comprised employees with disabilities, employees without disabilities, members of management and human resources managers. Self-administered questionnaires with embedded checklists and interviews were used to collect the data. Qualitative data was collected by means of interviews. Only the human resources managers were interviewed because they generally had an in-depth understanding of organisational policies that affect the employment of people with disabilities. The survey revealed that Transnet was committed to employing people with disabilities. However, beliefs, myths, stereotyping and misconceptions surrounding those with disabilities also act as an impediment to the successful inclusion of people with disabilities within Transnet. Furthermore, the research revealed that the perceived cost of inclusion is a factor most likely to present more challenges. Furthermore, the results from qualitative analysis indicate that apart from perceived cost, the inclusion of people with disabilities at Transnet has genuine cost implications. It transpired that Transnet procures assets from global Original Equipment Manufacturers, so customisation to cater for people with disabilities can add to the costs of assets that are already expensive. The literature review acknowledges the important role that policies play in the organisation, as the development of policies is triggered by the gap in the inclusion of people with disabilities. The survey revealed that policies affecting the employment of people with disabilities are not effective in terms of their implementation, as most South African organisations are not on a par with the recommended target of 2%. Both the survey and the qualitative results recognise the significance of organisational procedures. However, organisational procedures cannot assist in achieving a successful inclusion where policies are not effectively implemented. Another issue is the rewards construct, which reveals that organisational rewards are more important to people with disabilities compared to those without. This could be due to the fact that people with disabilities have special needs and the exclusion experienced by this group has been extended to include organisational rewards. The research findings also endorse the notion that disability issues are not taken seriously by the Government and the corporate sector, as the employment of people with disabilities is being viewed as an onerous liability rather than a priority. Both the survey and qualitative results have revealed that the type of work to be performed also perpetuates exclusion. It emerged that most people with disabilities are not overly involved in Transnet’s core areas of business, such as the Crane and Pilot operation. They are mostly found in administrative departments such as human resources and finance. Apart from other divisions, the Transnet Freight Rail division was identified as the division that was unable to include people with disabilities; this exclusion is based on the tasks performed by this division. It also emerged that there is still non-compliance on the part of the company.
Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.