Affirmative action case postponed

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equity apr 30 CAPE TIMES Andre Jonkers, a Correctional Services Department employee, in the Labour Court where he testified that he believed his skin colour prevented him from being promoted. The landmark case against the department continues. Photo: Michael Walker

Cape Town - An affirmative action case by union Solidarity against the Western Cape correctional services department was postponed in the Labour Court in Cape Town, the union said on Friday.

“The case was postponed today (Friday) on condition that the posts applied for by the applicants and those that have not been filled, remain vacant. The trial will resume on 29 July until 9 August,” the union said in a statement.

Solidarity said it brought the matter to court on behalf of the department's staff members - Linda-Jean Fortuin, Christopher February, Andre Jonkers, Geo-nita Baartman, Pieter Davids, Derick Wehr, Jan Kotze, Desiree Merkeur, Deidre Jordaan and Teresa Abrahams.

“In each case, the persons concerned were the best candidates for positions they had applied for, and their skin colour was the only reason they have not been appointed,” the union said.

“Solidarity maintains that the department's blatant policy of absolute racial representation is unfair, irrational and unlawful.”

In all the cases, the department argued that the national demographics had to be used as the criterion, said Solidarity.

geo-nita baartman Geo-Nita Baartman, who has worked for the Correctional Services Department for over 13 years, believes she has been overlooked for promotion. Photo: Brenton Geach Independent Newspapers

It said coloured employees were overlooked because of the department's affirmative action policy.

Fortuin, a coloured woman with 26 years of service at the department, was one of the employees who were allegedly dealt a blow by the policy.

“She applied for three posts, but as a result of affirmative action, was passed over for all three. She was later appointed to one of the posts, that of Area Co-ordinator at Pollsmoor, with effect from 1 June 2012.”

February, a coloured employee with 16 years of service, applied for the post of senior state accountant and was recommended as the best candidate.

“However, the director for equitable employment argued that the recommendation was not in line with the affirmative action plan, and the second best candidate, a black female, was recommended for the position. She, however, had already accepted another position, and the post was re-advertised.”

Teboho Mokoena, deputy commissioner of human resources at the department, said his department followed the requirements of the Employment Equity Act.

correctional equity Freddie Engelbrecht of the Correctional Services Department. Photo: Michael Walker Cape Times

“In terms of senior management posts of director and chief director levels in the Western Cape, there are five coloured males, two coloured females, five African males, five African females and one white male - there are no white females or Indian males or females in senior management,” said Mokoena.

“Coloureds therefore comprise more than one third, or 38.89 percent, of senior managers.”

Mokoena said Minister Sibusiso Ndebele convened a ministerial consultative forum in February, designated to resolve any problems that may exist between the department and recognised trade unions.

“The department and the unions have structures in place to address issues related to the employment equity plan.”

“Solidarity does not serve on these structures, due to the fact that it is not recognised within the department, as per rules of the collective bargaining council.” - Sapa

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