Woolworths denies racist employment practices
RETAIL group Woolworths on Tuesday refuted an allegation that it administered racist employment practices.
The claim was made on a blog on Sunday evening by Justin Harrison, who describes himself as a "South African internet entrepreneurial pioneer".
His statement that Woolworths "blatantly" posted advertisements on its jobs site that were "exclusive of whites" unleashed a flurry of both mild criticism and strong support for the JSE-listed company on social media sites Twitter and Facebook.
"I have launched a full-scale campaign against Woolworths SA in a bid to get a public apology from them, as well as getting them to revert their policies to be fully inclusive and equal to all South Africans, failing which I am calling all South Africans that oppose racism to boycott Woolworths," Mr Harrison said.
"After all, I find it only fair that if they expect whites to spend money in their stores, they should provide equal opportunities to all, including whites," he added.
The Employment Equity Act compels all South African companies with more than 50 employees to plan their workforce by race, gender and disability.
Woolworths said that like all South African companies, it had a role to play in transformation.
"For this reason, some positions, where there is underrepresentation, are designated groups. The designated groups are Africans, coloureds, Indians, women and people with disabilities. It is not true that all positions are reserved for these designated groups — Woolworths employs people of all races," it said.
Meanwhile, the Pro-Afrikaans Action Group (Praag) called for a blanket boycott of Woolworths.
Dan Roodt, leader of Praag, said that during an "emergency meeting" of the group’s human rights committee, Woolworths had been classified as a hate group.
"We will contact the Council of Europe and the European Human Rights Commission, requesting them to ban employees of Woolworths from obtaining Schengen visas. In this respect, Mr Simon Susman and his fellow managers must be treated the same way as Robert Mugabe and his henchmen," Mr Roodt said.
Mr Susman is no longer the CEO of Woolworths; he is the group’s chairman. Ian Moir is now the CEO.
Singer Steve Hofmeyr expressed solidarity with the boycott on Twitter when he tweeted: "Gonna be hard, but goodbye Woolies."
Meanwhile, Denver Berman-Jacob, a white employee at Woolworths, tweeted that the accusations were baseless and without merit. "I think I should know, I work here," he said.
In August, South African Airways (SAA) in August came under fire for no longer accepting cadet pilot training course applications from white men.
According to SAA, 85% of its pilots are white, of which 7.6% are white females. "This means that only 15% of SAA pilots are black — Africans, coloureds and Indians," the airline said in a statement in August.
It has since lifted the ban.