The Denel Group has confirmed a training opportunity for 41 artisans are not open to whites – this after the trade union Solidarity warned the approach is unfairly based on race.
The union says Denel’s associate company, Rheinmetall Denel Munition wants only black, Indian and coloured students to apply to be included in the programme. Denel says this is indeed so. “With a shortage of transformation candidates available in the marketplace, it is hoped that these trainees will become potential employees of the company and address the representativity challenges,” explained Duduzile Letseli, General Manager HR & Transformation at RDM. “The company is committed to addressing these transformation challenges.”
But Solidarity complains that RDM’s approach to the training programme was unfairly based on race because white students were completely excluded from the programme. The training opportunities that include 30 chemical operators, three fitters, three fitter and turners, two electricians, one technical draughtsman and one instrument worker were apparently internally advertised on company noticeboards at RDM’s Boskop (North West), Wellington (Western Cape) and Boksburg (Gauteng) facilities.
“The heading of the notice says, among other things, that the apprenticeship opportunity is ‘open to friends and family’. Clearly white students are not regarded as family and friends,” Kleynhans complained. “If the company decided to set certain targets for racial representation in its training programmes, it would be one thing, but completely excluding white students from the programme portrays a racist message because the selection is based simply on race,” Kleynhans added.
Letseli added RDM was committed to the transformation programme it has implemented since 2007. “The programme is aimed at addressing the transformation challenges within the industry. It is also aimed at creating an empowered workforce that is adaptable to change and where performance and delivery are drivers for success. The defence industry continues to face significant challenges in terms of lack of representativity in the industry and the shortage of technically skilled previously disadvantaged individuals (pdi’s),” she said.
Solidarity says RDM’s human resources department has indicated that six applications had been received for a position, but that no appointment could be made because all the applicants were white. A similar approach, practiced by the police has just been adjudged unfair discrimination by the Labour Court.