Bite your tongue before you threaten to hit a colleague at work, irrespective of whether being provoked or responding to a provoking WhatsApp-message.
This is the warning from Tiekie Mocke, Manager of MISA’s Legal Department, after the Manager at a dealership workshop threatened to hit a MISA member during a heated exchange of words.
The manager received a final written warning as sanction after a grievance was laid against him. He also has to attend an anger management course in the next three months.
Mocke says although it sounds like a severe sentence, he could have been dismissed. Employers cannot tolerate any act of violence or harassment at work.
The presiding officer found both parties in the wrong because they were using abusive and insulting language towards each other and both were disrespectful.
The manager felt he was being provoked causing him to lose this temper.
“Unfortunately threatening someone will not be tolerated and is in fact a criminal offence. Although he apologised, no act of violence in the workplace can be tolerated,” the officer said.
In a recent case before the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) the Commissioner also found that threats made in WhatsApp messages were so serious that it justified the dismissal of an employee.
In this case, an electrical assistant wrote the following on a WhatsApp group shortly after the company enacted a “short-time” policy:
“Think EFF can help us all when someone is trying to fool us those two guys from church, we never call union us to meeting so is fine we didn’t kill that stupid so I will try to the Zulu nation what going on, those guys they total commit crime Malema must know this by Tuesday we still organising phela we can lose our money someone want to run with our money.”
The employee was unaware that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) was also on the WhatsApp group. The employee also threatened to kill an official of a trade union on the same WhatsApp group. The CCMA ruled the dismissal was fair.
Mocke says the South African Government ratified Convention C190 in November last year. This refers to the International Labour Organisation’s Convention concerning the prevention and elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work.
The objective of C190 is to eliminate all forms of harassment in the workplace, including virtual workplaces (such as being at home where employees work remotely), and advocates for the implementation of inclusive and intersectional policies and procedures that protect the rights of workers to freedom from harassment and violence in the world of work, recognising this freedom as a human right.
The Convention defines violence and harassment as a “range of unacceptable behaviours and practices” which “aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm” thereby creating a hostile work environment.
In accordance with C190 perpetrators of physical and emotional violence and harassment directed towards employees in the “World of Work” must be prosecuted and if found guilty, sentenced accordingly. C190 complements national legislation that includes the Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence Amendment Bills as well as the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters Amendment Bill).
MISA took a stance against violence and harassment in the retail motor industry by establishing a web-based point of contact dedicated to the reporting and resolution of incidents.
If you have any complaints or grievances of workplace violence and harassment in the industry, please send an email to endGBV@ms.org.za
Issued on behalf of MISA by Sonja Carstens, Media, Liaison and Communication Specialist.