Trade union Solidarity has requested an interdict in the Cape Town Labour Court today against the enforcement by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) of its controversial affirmative action plan. The interdict is to prevent the DCS from filling the positions of five DCS employees on whose behalf Solidarity is conducting legal proceedings against the department.
This follows after the DCS has started taking steps to fill the position of Christo February, one of the applicants in the case, despite February recently having been nominated the best candidate for the particular position. The DCS, on the grounds of its affirmative action plan, refuses to appoint him.
The DCS believes that the national demographics should be applied in the Western Cape. This means that the number of coloured employees, constituting some 51% of the Western Cape demographics, is to be reduced to 8,8% to bring it in line with the national demographics. Solidarity equated this policy with a massive social engineering programme.
“The DCS does not respect the current court proceedings. The department wants to rush through its controversial racial plan at any cost and as fast as possible; it’s not even waiting for legal certainty. Its diligence in trying to enforce the national demographics in the Western Cape in an absolute manner makes us all the more determined to continue with the court case. The DCS appears to be ignorant of its own wrongdoing. The fact that it wants to fill the positions while the court ruling is still pending shows it will carry on doing so if not stopped by the court,” Dirk Hermann, Deputy General Secretary of Solidarity, said.
In May of this year, Solidarity filed papers in the Cape Town Labour Court on behalf of five of its members, February included, in a case against the DCS’s controversial affirmative action plan. The union was not only seeking a ruling that its members be promoted but also that the affirmative action plan of the DCS be declared invalid in its entirety.
According to Dirk Groenewald, head of Solidarity’s Labour Court Division, the union in an earlier letter to the DCS demanded that the position, in which February had acted for almost four years, be left vacant as Solidarity and the department were engaged in a court case about the matter. “February acted as senior state accountant until June 2012. The DCS has now again taken steps to try and fill the position although February had been nominated the best candidate for the position in a previous process; however, due to the department’s affirmative action plan, he was not considered.”
Solidarity has petitioned the court to force the DCS to leave the position vacant; alternatively, to allow February to resume acting in the position until after the court ruling.