De Klerk Foundation welcomes labour ruling

2013-10-19 20:00
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Johannesburg - The ruling that it was unfair for the correctional services department to only use national demographics in implementing affirmative action targets was a victory for equality, the FW de Klerk Foundation said on Saturday.

The foundation said in a statement that the way the Employment Equity Act sought equality through demographic representation fell short of the constitutional values of non-racialism and had yet to be tested in a higher court.

The Labour Court in Cape Town ruled on Friday that the department take immediate steps to take both national and regional demographics into account when setting equity targets.

This was applicable at all levels of the department's work force.

Judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker ruled in favour of 10 Western Cape correctional service officials who had challenged the department's employment equity plan.

Initially, five officials challenged the department. They were followed by another five who had been overlooked for promotion on racial grounds. Trade union Solidarity took up the matter on behalf of the 10.

The foundation said the department issued its employment equity plan in 2011, which gave instructions for the attainment of equality targets throughout the service.

"The targets - 79.3% for black South Africans, 9.3% for white South Africans, 8.8% for brown South Africans and 2.5% for Indians would bring employees into line with national and not regional demographics," it said.

This was despite the fact that in the Western Cape "brown" South Africans comprised 54% of the population in the Western Cape.

"As a result, the commissioner of correctional services prohibited the appointment or promotion of any more brown or white South Africans," the foundation said.

"[This was] despite the fact that brown and white applicants were often the best qualified and most experienced candidates for vacant posts."

The foundation viewed the department's employment equity plan as illegal, unconstitutional and simply unfair, as non-racialism was one of the founding values in the Constitution.

It said the department's plan was aimed at mathematical representivity and not broad representivity as stated by the Constitution.

"It is clearly not fair since it once again entrenches race as the sole criterion for promotion and would require brown employees of the department to move away from their communities if they want to be promoted," the foundation said.

"It does not redress imbalances of the past because it creates new racial imbalances between the profile of the people of the Western Cape and the officials who are intended to serve them."

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