Solidarity launches campaign against Woolworths

Dirk Hermann says company's racial exclusions overstep limit of fairness

Solidarity launches public campaign against Woolworths

Woolworse: Making a differentiation

Today at 12:00 the trade union Solidarity launched a huge campaign against Woolworths after the group failed to retract advertisements for posts for which only black candidates will be considered. The campaign, with the slogan Woolworse: Making a differentiation will be driven by social media and will include thousands of protest messages to Ian Moir, CEO of Woolworths.

Yesterday, Solidarity sent a letter to Woolworths demanding that advertisements, which are exclusively open to ‘African blacks' or ‘Africans, Coloureds and Indians', be modified so that people of all races can be considered. Dirk Hermann, Solidarity Deputy General Secretary, said that Woolworth's advertisements for posts constitute unfair race discrimination.

"In the media Woolworths argues that they are only complying with affirmative action laws. However, the truth is that the Employment Equity Act does not allow such exclusions. Article 15 of the Act makes it clear that quotas are not allowed; quotas are absolute exclusions. Woolworths is using demographics as an absolute criterion to determine if people will be considered for a post or not. 

The Act specifically states that representation cannot be the only criterion. If Woolworths wants to be honest about its intention to comply with the Employment Equity Act, it will withdraw the advertisements and change the wording to comply with the requirements set out in the Act."

Hermann said that Woolworths's absolute exclusions in the application process overstep the limits of fairness.  "Woolworths's excluding people based on race is not morally justifiable. Everything that takes place under the banner of affirmative action is not justifiable. Even if Woolworths' argument that it is complying with legislation carries water, it is still not morally justifiable. There are certain things that people can or may do, but should not do. Moral justification is based on the community's opinion on whether something may be done. Woolworths has been found guilty in the court of public opinion and clients will use their wallets to punish this group."

The public campaign against Woolworths will include, among other things, thousands of protest messages to Moir. Solidarity will also use Facebook and Twitter to gain public support for this campaign.

Members of the public can send protest letters about Woolworths's quotas to the group through the website, The campaign can be followed on Twitter at #Woolworths.

For Hermann's open letter to Woolworths, click here.

Statement issued by Dirk Hermann, Deputy General Secretary: Solidarity, September 5 2012

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