The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa on Thursday reiterated its stance that workers should be allowed to express themselves through struggle songs, ahead of a Constitutional Court ruling on whether a company was right to dismiss employees for singing one during a strike.
In 2013, Duncanmec dismissed workers affiliated to Numsa for misconduct after they sang the song “uMama uyajabula mangishayibhunu” during a strike.
Loosely translated from isiZulu, the song means “My mother rejoices when I hit the boer”, a reference to white Afrikaner descendants of Dutch-speaking settlers.
Numsa said it rejected the company’s claim that the song was racist and an example of hate speech.
Duncanmec took the matter to the Constitutional Court after the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) and the Labour Court ruled in favour of the dismissed workers.
“(Today) the Constitutional Court will hand down judgement on whether to uphold the decision of the CCMA and the Labour Court, or it may reverse the decision in favour of Duncanmec,” Numsa said.
“We are hoping that the Constitutional Court will make the correct finding and support the decisions of the Labour Court and the CCMA. Struggle songs tell the story of our battles with apartheid and with our modern day oppressor which is capital (private companies).
“Struggle songs are a part of who we are and how we express ourselves as the working class majority in Africa. Any limitation on this right is a limitation on the right to freedom of speech. As Numsa we are committed to vociferously defending this freedom with all we have.”