Trade union solidarity today announced it has embarked on a legal process against South African Airways (SAA) on behalf of while male candidates excluded from the airline’s cadet programme.
Yesterday it emerged that, of the 5 200 applicants for SAA’s cadet pilot programme, only 40 had made it to final selection from a shortlist of 271 and these included ten African men and four women; nine Coloured men and one woman; seven Indian men and two women and seven white women.
“SAA’s exclusion of white male candidates constitutes subsidised racism,” said Dirk Hermann, Deputy General Secretary of Solidarity. “The taxpayer is forced to pay for the government’s obsession to apply national racial demographics at all levels, everywhere in South Africa, absolutely. This approach has led to racial figures becoming more important than service delivery.”
Solidarity is asking SAA why Daniël Hoffman, Dirk Kotze and several other white male candidates’ applications for inclusion in the cadet programme had been unsuccessful.
Hermann said 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.”
“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,” Hoffman said.
In August last year, SAA’s pilot recruitment came under scrutiny after it was reported that white applicants were being rejected across the board when applying for the cadet programme online.
SAA spokesman Kabelo Ledwaba told Beeld at the time that the cadet programme was being advertised online as an initiative to bring pilot demographics in line with the country’s broader demographics. “Only 15% of SAA’s pilots are currently black, and this includes Indians and coloureds. The rest are white, and 91% of them are men.” Ledwaba said the airline would appoint male, white pilots when there were vacant posts for which applicants of other races could not be found.
Shortly afterwards, SAA’s website was changed so that applications from white men would not be automatically rejected.
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.
The group of 40 student cadets started their training at 43 Air School in Port Alfred on Monday with 14 months of theoretical and practical training en route to their “frozen” Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL). After this it’s three years internship for those who make the grade.