Prisons deny sidelining coloured workers
Johannesburg - Prison authorities on Thursday denied discriminating against coloured employees through affirmative action policies.
"The... allegations of deliberate discrimination and marginalisation of members of the coloured community working in the Western Cape [branch] are without merit and devoid of truth," national correctional services commissioner Tom Moyane said.
"The department... is applying national government policy with regard to the representivity of all South Africans in the work place, and the Western Cape is no exception."
He said in a statement his department was looking forward to the judiciary's interpretation of the Employment Equity Act with regard to "proportional representivity".
On Wednesday, trade union Solidarity announced it was contemplating taking the department to court over its policies.
"Over 30 individual cases could be consolidated, making this the biggest affirmative action case yet in South Africa," Solidarity deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann said.
"In these cases, the [correctional services] employees were the best candidates, but they were passed over for promotion because of the policy of absolute national demographic representivity."
He said the union consolidated the cases of five department employees - four of them coloured and one white.
Hermann said there was an "outcry" after government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said in a televised interview in March 2010 that there was an oversupply of coloureds in the Western Cape. He was director general of labour at the time.
Manyi also advocated absolute national demographic representivity in the workplace.
"The... policy is the practical outworking of Jimmy Manyi's comments. [Minister in the Presidency] Trevor Manuel responded to Manyi in an open letter, stating that his comments were not in line with the letter and spirit of the Constitution," Hermann said.