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'The Employment Equity plan is rigid'

Correctional Services employees have taken it to court over its use of national demographics.

Ten employees and Trade Union Solidarity have taken the Correctional Services Department to the highest court in the land claiming they were unfairly discriminated against.

JOHANNESBURG - The Constitutional Court has heard that the Employment Equity plan is rigid and many national departments are afraid of deviating from it.

Ten employees and Trade Union Solidarity have taken the Correctional Services Department to the highest court in the land, claiming they were unfairly discriminated against when they were passed over for a promotion because they don't fit the national demographics.

The case goes to the heart of legal questions around Affirmative Action, and whether it would be fair for a national government department to say that only a small percent of its workers in the Western Cape can be coloured, using national demographics.

Advocate Jeremy Gauntlett, who is representing the employees, says his clients should have been promoted and regional demographics should have been taken into consideration.

'OVERLY REPRESENTED'

Questions have been raised about coloured people being overly represented in the Western Cape and therefore, many wouldn't receive jobs or promotions because national departments, like Correctional Services, are assessing people according to national demographics to comply with its Employment Equity plan.

The department says it's use of national demographics to achieve equitable representation in its workforce does not equate to unfair discrimination as it is a national department which recruits its workforce on a national basis.

Judges have questioned why coloured people who are well represented in the Western Cape should not be promoted for jobs, simply because it doesn't comply with national demographics.

Concerns have also been raised about whether coloured people should then move to another region where they are not well represented, in order to secure a job or a promotion.

However, Advocate Marumo Moerane who represents the department says it's fulfilled its obligation by implementing the Employment Equity plan.

"The department has indeed implemented an employment equity plan which will achieve reasonable progress towards equity."

Judges will have to decide whether Regional demographics need to be considered or whether the plan is flawed.

Lawyers for the department have argued that it complied by implementing this plan, it says it does allow for deviation and it looks at national demographics because it recruits its workforce on a national basis

Judges will have to decide whether Regional demographics need to be considered or whether the plan is flawed.

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