Judgement reserved in the emotive Labour Court case over sports quotas

06 March 2019 - 17:04 By Khanyiso Tshwaku
Norman Arendse during the CSA Annual General Meeting at ORTIA Inter-Continental Hotel on September 08, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Norman Arendse during the CSA Annual General Meeting at ORTIA Inter-Continental Hotel on September 08, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Judgement was reserved in the emotive transformation Labour Court case between trade union Solidarity and the Department of Sports and Recreation.

Solidarity‚ alongside its sister organisation Afriforum‚ launched an application to have the SRSA's transformation charter set aside on the basis that it was underpinned by unfair racial discrimination.

The SRSA was one of six respondents that included Cricket South Africa (CSA)‚ Netball South Africa (NSA)‚ SA Rugby Union‚ Athletics South Africa (ASA) and the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).

The South African sporting federations were represented by Advocate Norman Arendse while Solidarity was represented by Advocate Greta Engelbrecht.

Engelbrecht argued to Labour Court Judge Zolashe Lallie that quotas‚ which are seen to be a direct by-product of the transformation charter‚ stop the advancement of people who are not categorised as generic black or black African.

Engelbrecht also said aggrieved sports persons who don't have the requisite recourse from a trade union perspective don't have legal recourse to fight quotas as they are at risk of being victimised.

“The fact (is) Springbok captain Siya Kolisi bemoans the fact that quotas hang like a placard over his neck.

"The fact that we read about Ashwin Willemse complained about the fact that he was always termed as a quota player.

Breyton Paulse and Errol Tobias have complained about the impact of being called a quota player.

"We are in dire need of an understanding of what's right and what's wrong‚” Engelbrecht said.

Arendse said Solidarity didn't have any representation from an employment perspective in the various sports federations he was representing and therefore the matter shouldn't have been heard in the labour court because the due mediation and conciliation procedures that form part of a labour dispute process were not followed.

Arendse also applied for the application to be dismissed with costs for the respondents while he said some of the federations he represented did not have Solidarity trade union members.

“There's no place for a professional employee who is part of the respondents to be part of Solidarity because the members are represented by recognised unions‚” Arendse said.

“It is an outrageous allegation with no evidential basis and no facts are advanced. Both the South African Rugby Players Association (SARPA) and the South African Cricketer's Association (SACA) have closed shop agreements. When you become a professional cricketer or rugby player‚ you're obliged to join those unions.”

Solidarity's chief executive officer Dirk Hermann said they were happy with the day's court proceeding but they hoped a decision that's made will be in the best interests of the country.

“It's a pity that some of the arguments went about technical issues and South Africa needs substantive answers on merit and not on substantive issues‚” Hermann said.

“The South African public needed answers on whether quotas are right or wrong and we didn't even argue that.

"That's a pity. If the judge ruled that this case is kicked out on a technical point‚ that means we must wait longer to get an answer.”

SRSA spokesperson said their door will remain opening for negotiation with Solidarity in regards with transformation.

“If they want an engagement‚ we'll remain open for engagements and that includes all of society's stakeholders.

"If they want to understand the philosophy and the thinking‚ I think they're still stuck because we're discussing the broader implementation of transformation and not just on the field‚ but other spheres like management and boards that drive the thinking‚” Mhaga said.

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