The department of correctional services is the worst employer of 2012 "with honours", trade union Solidarity said on Sunday.
"The decision to appoint the DCS as worst employer was...an obvious one," said union spokesperson Johan Kruger in a statement.
Kruger said, earlier this year, Solidarity was involved in a court case against the department of correctional services over affirmative action.
"According to the DCS's affirmative action plan, every workplace, even at provincial and regional level, must reflect the national race demography.
"As a result, white and particularly coloured employees in the Western Cape stand almost no chance to be appointed or promoted."
Department of Correctional Services spokesperson Koos Gerber, responded to news of the award saying: "That's their opinion...What can I say? That's the [affirmative action] policy of government. The department follows the policy of government".
Solidarity also awarded Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson the prize of being named worst executive of the year.
"Joemat-Pettersson was appointed as 2012's worst executive because of her hotel spending of almost R1,6-million during the past two years."
Her handling of the recent farm workers strike was also taken into consideration, said Kruger.
Ministerial spokesperson Palesa Mokomele responded to the award by saying that Solidarity could do itself justice by "giving credit where it's due and waking up to the realities of our country."
"One of the successes of the department has been its contribution to employment in the agricultural sector and this was due to the leadership of Minister Joemat-Pettersson."
Solidarity named workers in the mining industry who did not partake in illegal strikes as the employees of the year.
"These employees kept on working loyally amid threats and intimidation from their striking colleagues".
Mining company Anglo-Gold Ashanti won an award for meritorious achievement.
"This employer has a reputation among trade unions, large and small alike, as a highly transparent and consultative employer," said Kruger.
Telkom was awarded with the "Come and Go" accolade.
"Pinky Moholi resigned in November and is Telkom's fifth CEO to do so during the past two years."