Cape Town - Woolworths has closed down its Facebook wall after commentators, aggrieved at the company’s employment equity policy, posted “vitriol” on the page.
Earlier this week, trade union Solidarity started a campaign to get the company to retract job advertisements it believed discriminated against white people.
Deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann said Solidarity’s campaign: “Woolworse: Making a differentiation”, would be driven by social media and include protest messages to Woolworths chief executive officer Ian Moir.
On Thurday, the retailer said it had disabled its Facebook wall because some of the comments amounted to hate speech.
“Disabling our wall was not a decision we took lightly and not one we’re particularly happy about. But when your page becomes little more than a platform for a well-orchestrated campaign of hate speech, we owe it to our customers not to subject them to such vitriol in our own house.
“We have, in a variety of channels, repeatedly refuted the claims being made against us.
“We have also allowed thousands of comments on our Facebook page, debating the pros and cons of Employment Equity as a national debate`acc… deleting only overt hate speech and comments inciting violence.
“However… many, many customers have asked us to stop hosting this vitriol. We will re-open our page as soon as we think we can resume reasonable discussion,” Woolworths said.
In an e-mail message to customers on Thursday, Moir said it was not true that Woolworths did not employ white people.
“Woolworths DOES employ white people. We employ women and men of all races – white, black, coloured, Indian, as well as people with disabilities, and will continue to do so.
“We’re a passionately South African company, so diversity is important to us. So is offering fair career opportunities. There are some areas of our business where certain groups are seriously under-represented.
“These are the positions where we actively look for qualified candidates from specific groups.”