Lack of work opportunities for women and black lawyers hampers transformation of the Labour Courts.

Judge President Zondo in his conference welcoming speech to the 22nd Annual Labour Law Conference stressed the importance of giving women and black lawyers the opportunity to prove themselves. He speaks from experience – his own career received a boost when labour clients placed their faith in him, allowing him to start up a law firm, giving him essential experience in preparation for his successful career as Judge and Judge President. Currently there are 9 judges, and although progress has been made in appointing black judges, only 2 of the 9 are women.
However, even if young lawyers receive appropriate experience, the future of the specialist Labour and Labour Appeal courts is not certain; the Bills on restructuring of the courts have not advanced and the uncertainty deters bright young prospects. The lack of permanent staff hampers the efficiency of the courts and the original intention of addressing pre-1995 delays has not been realised. He emphasises that this is something that needs urgent resolution.
Finally, he proposes that it must be possible to create systems for appropriate supervision and that government should lead the way – by briefing young black lawyers and women lawyers – giving them the work that will enable them to acquire the experience necessary to demonstrate their suitability and competence as judges of the future.

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