File photo

Cape Town - A landmark bid by five Western Cape prison officials to have the department's employment equity plan struck down will be heard next year, Solidarity said on Friday.

“Everything has been finalised. The parties agreed on pre-trial minutes and the content thereof in chambers today (Friday). The agreement will be filed by no later than Tuesday,” the union's labour court head Dirk Groenewald said.

He said the union would approach the Cape Town labour court for a preferential trial date, which would likely be no later than April.

The union was acting on behalf of Pieter Davids, Christopher February, Andre Jonkers, Linda-Jean Fortuin, and Geonita Baartman.

The group, all coloured, had apparently been passed over for appointment or promotion on the basis of affirmative action.

The union seeks an order to compel the correctional services department to promote the employees and to have its equity plan declared unlawful.

The correctional services target in the Western Cape is the same as every other province - 79.3 percent target for black staff, 9.3 percent for whites, 8.8 percent for Coloureds, and 2.5 percent for Indians.

The local demographic, however, is 54 percent coloured, 26 percent black, 19 percent white, and 1 percent Indian.

According to Solidarity, the lawsuit would be the most extensive case yet in the country, as it would affect not only the department, but all affirmative action policies in the civil service.

Groenewald said papers were served on the department last week for five other coloured employees who also wanted to challenge the equity plan.

They are Desiree Merkeur, Teresa Abrahams, Deidre Jordaan, Jan Kotze, and Derick Wehr.

Papers were filed in this regard in the labour court on Friday.

Parties in the matter agreed that the two cases would be consolidated because they had the same legal basis. - Sapa