Cape Town - Solidarity says it will return to court to get the Correctional Services Department to implement a landmark ruling that regional, and not just national, demographics need to be taken into account for employment equity targets.
However, the department says it is not following this ruling, made about nine weeks ago, because there is an appeal against the ruling.
While Solidarity and the national department are up against each other, regional correctional services commissioner Delekile Klaas says he is not focused on race, but rather on nation-building.
Last year Solidarity and 10 Correctional Services Department employees took action against the department and the labour minister as they believe the department’s employment equity plan should be declared unlawful because its equity targets are in line with national, and not provincial, demographics.
Solidarity said coloured South Africans made up less than 10 percent of the national population, but 53 percent of the Western Cape population.
In October Judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker ordered the department to take immediate steps to ensure that both national and regional demographics were taken into account when setting equity targets. This was in respect of people from designated groups, which included women, people with disabilities and people who were black, coloured or Indian.
On Thursday Correctional Services’ chief deputy commissioner for human resources, Teboho Mokoena, confirmed to the Cape Times that a circular, instructing that national demographics be used, was recently sent out to staff.
“The judgment cannot be enforced for now until the matter has been exhausted.”
Mokoena said the department, as well as Solidarity, were appealing against differing aspects of the judgment.
He declined to divulge exactly what was being appealed against.
Mokoena said a court date for the matter to proceed had not yet been announced.
On Thursday Solidarity’s executive officer, Dirk Hermann, said: “Our concern is that the Department of Correctional Services is misusing the appeal process to continue to implement unlawful practice.”
While the department had confirmed to the media it had issued the instruction to staff about national demographics, it was yet to confirm this directly to Solidarity.
Hermann said the department’s decision to stick to only national demographics in terms of employment equity was “very irresponsible”.
“It’s not acceptable at all,” he said. There were measures that could enable Solidarity to “force” the department to follow the Labour Court ruling.
Solidarity spokesman Johan Kruger said it was appealing against the Labour Court judgment in terms of no relief being granted to the applicants in the matter and no cost order being granted in Solidarity’s favour.
He said the Correctional Services Department was appealing against an aspect involving the regional demographics.
This week Klaas confirmed a circular about national demographics had been issued.
But he referred queries about the Labour Court case to Mokoena.
“From where I’m standing, the issue of race has never been a problem,” Klaas said.
He said when he had made appointments, he had taken various aspects, including skill levels, into consideration.
“For me the issue is nationbuilding,” Klaas said.