9 fired Duncanmec workers to return to work

On Thursday, the Constitutional Court upheld earlier decisions by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) and the Labour Court that declared the dismissals unfair.

Picture: Numsa

JOHANNESBURG - Nine workers who were dismissed for singing a struggle song will return to their workstations from Friday after the Constitutional Court ordered they be immediately reinstated.

The group was fired by manufacturing firm Duncanmec in 2013 for singing a song which loosely translates to “My mother rejoices when I hurt a boer”.

On Thursday, the Constitutional Court upheld earlier decisions by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) and the Labour Court that declared the dismissals unfair.

The Constitutional Court has agreed with both the CCMA and the Labour Court that while the song sung by the workers may have been inappropriate, the word 'boer' is neither racist nor racially offensive.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa)’s Irvin Jim says Duncanmec's decision to drag this matter through the courts demonstrates the need for transformation in South Africa’s workplaces.

“These workers took a stand to say ‘we’re not going to allow your form of exploitation [and] oppression, we resist that’.”

Jim says the working class continues to sing struggle songs because it's still fighting for justice and equality.

“We know that racism in this country is still rife and therefore when workers demonstrate [and] protest they are allowed to go to the archives.”
Numsa says Thursday’s victory belongs to all workers.

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)