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K-word gets employees in hot water

The United National Transport Union (UNTU) would like to remind its membership that there is a zero tolerance from employers, the courts and the public at large for the use of the derogatory K-word and if you disobey, you will get fired and may also face criminal prosecution and a civil claim.

Steve Harris, general secretary of UNTU, says he decided to remind diverse membership that the K-word is considered hate speech in terms of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000 (the Equality Act) and the use thereof is prohibited in South Africa after a #UNTU member was fired by Transnet Freight Rail for using the word for a second time.

In the arbitration award, the arbitrator referred the parties to the Constitutional Court judgement in the matter between the South African Revenue Services and the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

The Court found that the use of the K-word is the worst of all racial vitriols a white person can ever direct at an African person in this country.

“To suggest that it is necessary for the employer to explain how that extremely abusive language could possibly break the trust relationship and render the employment relationship intolerable, betrays insensitivity of the highest order. Where such injurious disregard for human dignity and racial hatred is spewed by an employee against his colleagues in a workplace, that ordinarily renders the relationship between the employee and the employer intolerable,” the Court ruled.

The Court also found that it can never be over-emphasised that being called the K-word is the worst insult that can ever be visited upon an African person in South Africa, particularly by a white person. “It runs against the very essence of our constitutional ethos or quintessence.”

The arbitrator found that in the light of the judgement, the dismissal of the applicant was substantively fair. The applicants own witnesses testified that he did indeed use the K-word.

Source: UNTU