Bay metro faces labour court challenge
THREE Nelson Mandela Bay municipal officials have turned to the Port Elizabeth Labour Court to challenge their bosses’ approval of an employment equity plan they feel unfairly discriminates against coloured people.
The municipality has reduced its employment target for coloured staff from 23% to 13%.
The officials – Willie Blundin, Dean du Plessis and Allister Jordan – believe the new employment equity plan, for 2013 to 2018, is geared to only benefit black Africans and does not reflect the racial demographics of the metro.
Blundin is an assistant director in the public health department while the other two are property management officers in the human settlements department.
They claim that for 10 years the municipality had planned its workforce targets based on the demographics of the Bay.
This changed in November 2013, when it decided to use national and provincial figures as a guideline for employment equity.
Based on these figures, the city would hire more black people and fewer coloured people.
The plan – which The Herald has seen – was approved by the council in February last year.
Black Africans make up about 60% of the metro population. Provincially, they are about 75% of the economically active population. Based on this, the municipality now wants 75% of its workforce to be black Africans.
Similarly, coloureds make up about 23.5% of the metro’s population, but only 13% of the economically active population in the province. So the metro wants only 13% of its staff to be coloured.
Whites make up 14.36% of the metro’s general population, Indians 1.11% and “others” 0.84%.
But of the economically active provincial population, whites comprise only 10.5% and Indians 0.8%, meaning fewer jobs with the municipality for them as well.
In papers filed with the labour court, Blundin, Du Plessis and Jordan say the new plan decreases coloured people’s chances for promotion or employment by 10 percentage points.
Municipal spokesman Roland Williams said the equity plan for 2013 to 2018 was in accordance with the Employment Equity Act.
“The 2005 code referred to by Mr Blundin may not supersede the provisions of the act and the regulations. The previous 2009 to 2013 employment equity plan was unfortunately not in line with the act as it relied only on the local demographic profile which was not provided for either in the act or the regulations.
“The present code includes six numerical targets and goals, all of which are based on the national demographic profile – accordingly the present code is in line with the prescriptions of the act.
“Legal precedence in this regard – for example, the labour court case between Solidarity and the Department of Correctional Services – reinforces the prescripts of the act, which we have followed to the letter. This has been formally communicated to Messrs Blundin, Jordan and Du Plessis.”
Williams said the targets were based on provincial demographics, as required by the act and that city manager Mpilo Mbambisa had signed off on the plan.
“The plan was tabled at council, but I am unable to retrieve the resolution at this time,” he said.
In their affidavit filed last month, Blundin, Du Plessis and Jordan wrote: “[We] submit that the respondent [municipality] has for 10 years set targets [based] on local demographics that have created expectations . . . and any deviation from the 2002 to 2013 demographics will mean that the applicants, and coloureds in particular, will be prejudiced and directly or indirectly discriminated against …
“It will mean that if the respondent has a workforce of 7 000 employees, instead of employing 1 600 coloureds, the [new] plan indicates now only 900 coloured employees could be employed.
“If the . . . court doesn’t review this plan, it will mean 600 potential candidates from the coloured community, or from the potential employees to be promoted, will either not be employed or promoted,” they wrote.
The men want the plan reviewed and set aside by a judge.
They speculate the municipality had achieved its targets for hiring black Africans between 2009 and 2013 and decided to change the targets to be able to appoint more blacks.
The men said they had spent four months negotiating with Mbambisa and had also gone to the CCMA but the case was dropped for further negotiations.