Thursday, June 13, 2013

■ SOUTH AFRICA: Trade Union Solidarity threatens SAA with legal action over alleged bias against white males at Academy intake.

Trade union SolidaritySouth African trade union Solidarity has embarked on a legal process on behalf of white male candidates who were excluded from the cadet programme at South African Airways (SAA), allegedly because of the colour of their skin. The trade union requested SAA to provide reasons why Daniël Hoffman, Dirk Kotze and several other white male candidates' applications for inclusion in the cadet programme had been unsuccessful.

SAAThe union said SAA announced on Monday that 40 candidates had been admitted to its cadet programme. They would undergo 14 months of theoretical and practical training to enable them to obtain their Airline Transport Pilot Licences.

This would be followed by about three years of internship. The group consisted of 10 black men, four black women, nine coloured men, one coloured woman, seven Indian men, two Indian women and seven white women, it said.
Dirk Hermann, Deputy General Secretary of Solidarity, says the trade union received several complaints from white men who had unsuccessfully applied for the cadet programme.
A number of these candidates were invited to undergo psychometric testing, but thereafter did not receive any feedback and were only informed earlier this month by e-mail that their applications had been unsuccessful. We are not aware of a single white male candidate who advanced to the next phase of the selection process.'
Hoffman (22), who obtained a BSc (IT) degree in Geographic Information Systems cum laude at the University of the Free State last year, was invited to undergo psychometric testing last year. However, he subsequently heard nothing about his application and was informed in response to his e-mail enquiries that that no further information was available. On 8 June he was informed by e-mail that his application had been unsuccessful. Hoffmann, who is currently studying towards an Honours degree in Geography, says he would like to know if the selection process was fair and legitimate. ‘Even if they had accepted just one white male, I would have felt that there had been a possibility for me to get into the programme and that the eight months had not been completely wasted.'

Kotze (21), who is currently studying towards a National Diploma in Civil Engineering at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), was also invited in November last year to undergo psychometric testing. He, too, did not receive any further information afterwards and was also informed by e-mail on 8 June that his application had been unsuccessful.

In its response, SAA said:
The final 40 candidates fall under the category of previously disadvantaged individuals (African, Coloured, Indian, White female) as defined in the Employment Equity Act. It is important to note this in the context of the current reality and measures that need to be taken. The cadet programme is the airline’s effort to transform not only its own but also the country’s flight deck community which is nowhere close to reflecting the country’s demographics.
Solidarity earlier accused the SAA of merely using the lifting of the ban on applications of white male candidates for the cadet programme as a smokescreen for continued racial discrimination by the airline. The trade union launched a huge campaign against the airline last year, after white men's applications had been rejected outright when they entered their race in the online application form. Solidarity resumed the campaign when it came to light that the airline had not selected any white male candidates for its cadet programme.