ConCourt: ‘The word boer not racist’

The Witness - - FRONT PAGE - — News24..

THE word “boer” is not racist or racially of­fen­sive, but is “in­ap­pro­pri­ate” when used in cer­tain strug­gle songs.

This was the unan­i­mous judg­ment of the Con­sti­tu­tional Court yes­ter­day fol­low­ing a labour dis­pute af­ter the dis­missal of nine em­ploy­ees by Ger­mis­ton-based man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany Dun­can­mec for singing a strug­gle song with “racial lyrics” dur­ing a strike.

Dur­ing a strike be­tween April 30 and May 2, 2013, the nine work­ers were filmed singing a well-known strug­gle song with lyrics that trans­late to “climb on the rooftop and shout that my mother is re­joic­ing when we hit the boers”.

The em­ploy­ees were dis­missed af­ter be­ing found guilty of par­tic­i­pat­ing in an un­law­ful strike ac­tion and for singing the song.

Dun­can­mec found the em­ploy­ees’ con­duct had ir­repara­bly eroded the re­la­tion­ship of trust.

The mat­ter was brought be­fore the bar­gain­ing coun­cil, where an ar­bi­tra­tor found that the em­ploy­ees had shown re­morse and that there was a need “to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween singing the song and re­fer­ring to some­one in racist lan­guage”.

The Labour Court up­held a de­ci­sion by the bar­gain­ing coun­cil that the work­ers be re­in­stated.

Hand­ing down judg­ment on an ap­pli­ca­tion for leave to ap­peal against the Labour Court’s rul­ing, the Con­sti­tu­tional Court dis­missed the ap­peal.

“The Con­sti­tu­tional Court re­marked that per­sis­tent in­stances of racism in the work­place were be­com­ing wor­ri­some and that, al­though the new con­sti­tu­tional or­der could hold peo­ple ac­count­able for racist con­duct, it could not by it­self make peo­ple stop be­ing racist,” the court ruled.

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