The trade union Solidarity says it has clinched a major victory in another battle against racism, this time at Rheinmetall Denel Munitions (RDM). In terms of this victory, white students will also be included in the company’s training programmes and be eligible for study bursaries in future, the union says.
This comes after Solidarity objected to what it calls “RDM’s racist approach” to participation in a training programme and applications for study bursaries at the company. White students were excluded entirely. RDM issued two notices on its study bursaries and artisan training programme late last year and earlier this year, stating that only black, Indian and coloured students could apply for the programme.
Solidarity discussed the matter with the management of RDM, stressing that this approach, which is based solely on race, is unfair. The trade union also insisted that RDM withdraw the notices and open the training programme to white students as well.
In a meeting with the company’s CE Norbert Schulze, Solidarity expressed concern over the exclusion of white students from the training programme and study bursaries. During the meeting, Schulze indicated to Solidarity that RDM regretted that the approach it had followed had “created the perception of the permanent exclusion of one group from training opportunities”.
Schulze has since then given Solidarity the assurance in a letter that it will no longer follow the approach of excluding one group from the company’s training opportunities.
According to Solidarity spokesperson Jaco Kleynhans, the trade union welcomes RDM’s announcement. “Solidarity realised that RDM, like other South African companies, are obligated by law to meet the requirements regarding equal employment and that these requirements can place companies under tremendous pressure. However, in spite of these requirements, whites should not be excluded from opportunities entirely. The exclusion of a group on the grounds of race is unfair and cannot be tolerated under any circumstances,” explains Kleynhans.
The notices that were issued to staff invited unemployed young people to apply for the training programme in Wellington, Boksburg and Boskop. The company offered this valuable training opportunity for 30 chemical operators, three fitters, three fitter and turners, two electricians, one technical draughtsman and one instrument worker.
* Denel was yesterday asked to comment on this report but had not done so by the time of publishing.