Authors: Marié McGregor
Abstract: This article discusses a case which illustrates the conflict between affirmative action, efficient services, safety in the workplace and related duties of employees and employers relating to these. The discussion takes place against the background of various interacting laws, namely the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, the Employment Equity Act, the Protected Disclosures Act, the Engineering Profession Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. In light of the case, the author poses the question whether affirmative action can trump efficient service delivery and safety. With regards to service delivery, the courts have given conflicting rulings but the author supports the view that servive delivery can trump affirmative action in certain circumstances. With regards to safety, it will be shown how safety may be ensured where the employer has disregarded same. Moreover, with no authority on safety, the author submits that it is obvious that affirmative action can never trump safety. She submits that the case sent a message to local governments (as municipalities and as employers) to provide services effectively, safely and in a sustainable manner to create safe environments for communities, including workplaces. In doing so, municipalities have to prioritise training for employees where needed. In neglecting this, employees may blow the whistle, use their professional bodies and applicable laws to ensure safety to protect themselves, co-employees and the public.
Keywords: workplace; whistleblowing; affirmative action; safety; professional statutory bodies; relevant laws