Bloody racial court case
Written by Peter Church
While 75% of blood donors in South Africa are white, the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) do not want to employ whites.
This is the sad facts and basis of a court case starting this week in the Johannesburg Labour Court.
Trade union Solidarity’s case against the SANBS over its absolute ban on certain racial groups’ applications for vacancies will get underway in the Johannesburg Labour Court on Thursday, 24 October 2013.
The case has started controversially, says Dirk Hermann, Deputy General Secretary of Solidarity: ‘The SANBS refused to meet Solidarity’s request for the disclosure of its blood donors’ racial demographics. Solidarity understands that approximately 75% of the blood service’s donors are white. We believe the blood service should take the demographics of its blood donors into consideration when appointing personnel.’
In the case Solidarity is representing Theodore Reyneke and Sanet Schönfeldt who have worked for the SANBS for 28 and 24 years respectively. ‘Last year the blood service embarked on a space-creation strategy and offered severance packages for white employees over the age of 55, thereby creating 14 vacancies. The vacancies were subsequently advertised and in the advertisement it was stipulated that only black Africans could apply for the jobs in question. Solidarity will request the court to concede that Reyneke and Schönfeldt were unfairly discriminated against on the basis of race and that the blood service should be prevented from applying similar practices in future.’
Hermann says the principle according to which people are barred from applying for posts if they are not of a specific race must be tested in court. ‘If we succeed in setting a precedent through this case, it will apply to all companies that follow this practice. This practice amounts to a quota system which is not permitted by the Employment Equity Act. An absolute ban may not be placed on the promotion of white people.’
*As a foot note to this story, do yourselves a favour and go to the SANBS website’s photo gallery honouring those who have reached milestones in giving blood, like more than 200 blood donations. It’s a rather “pink” affair.