The issue of an employee, or groups of such individuals, defying management is one which is often dealt with in the workplace. This is termed as ‘insubordination’.
How to deal with an insubordination issue such as this was explained in the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) case of United Chemical Industries Mining Electrical State Health and Aligned Workers Unions obo Kekana / Dollar Thrifty Car Rental – (2017) 26 CCMA 8.18.1
An employee, who was an attendant at the employer’s car rental facility at OR Tambo Airport, left the radio of a returned car playing very loudly.
His colleagues started dancing to the music. Employees of an adjacent rental firm also started dancing.
The manager requested that he turn the music down. He ignored the manager’s instruction to turn the radio down. The employee was charged and dismissed for insubordination and insolence.
The employee claimed, in defence, that he had not understood the instruction the manager issued. The Commissioner held that the employee had indeed heard the instruction and had waved insolently at the manager.
The Commissioner held that insubordination occurs when an employee, without good reason, refuses to obey a reasonable and lawful instruction. Insolence is disrespectful and impudent behaviour. Both were present here and therefore the employee’s dismissal was substantively fair.